These Rwandan juveniles come from various prisons across the country to undergo correctional measures while being taught basic life skills.
Prisons for juveniles (people under 17 or 18, depending on the jurisdiction) are known as young offender institutes.
They hold minors who have been remanded into custody or serving sentences. Many countries have their own age of criminal responsibility in which children are deemed legally responsible for criminal actions.
In Rwanda the courts sentence a juvenile (below 18 years) as an adult, but have them serve their sentence in a juvenile facility until they reach the age of a major, at which time they are transferred to an adult facility.
Nyagatare Prison serves as one of the correctional facilities with a capacity of 500 juveniles. It is located in Nyagatare District, in the Eastern Province of Rwanda.
“The main reason why we put these young people in a separate prison is for their protection. It has been hard for older prisoners to mingle with the youths and most of the time they get less food due to pressure and fear. So we separated them so that they can feel free and access enough food,” said Richard Kamanzi, the Prisons Superintendent.
“These correctional facilities make it easy to plan daily programmes for juveniles and encourages a powerful interaction among them as compared to when they are with older inmates,” he added.
Kamanzi also cited the fact that separating juveniles from adults protects them from becoming homosexual victims in prisons.
Currently Nyagatare prison has 126 juveniles of which 116 are boys and 10 are girls. Among the prisoners are children of 14 years of age who have committed grave crimes and are serving a term of 18 years in jail. These Rwandan juveniles come from various prisons across the country to undergo correctional measures while being taught basic life skills.
In 2003, Nyagatare Prison was previously build for prisoners of all age groups but was changed into a juvenile prison in February 2009.
This prison has had successful correctional measures that have left the ex-juveniles reliable and of great support to the society. In essence prisons in general are not a center of torture but a place of behavioral reformation.