Youth homes for children in conflict with law
he Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) is urging local chief executives in Metro Manila to establish 24-hour youth homes for children-in-conflict-with-the-law (CICL) in support of Malacañang efforts to speed up the release of minors from adult jails as mandated by the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act.
In a memorandum, the DILG said these youth homes should become short-term residential care facilities for CICL who are awaiting the court disposition of their cases or their transfer to government agencies or jurisdiction like the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) that are in charge of carrying our appropriate rehabilitation or counseling programs for juvenile offenders.
According to the DILG, these child-caring centers will serve on a 24-hour basis and will be managed by local government units (LGUs).
Under RA 9344, LGUs are required to set aside specific amounts for establishing these centers at the local government level.
The Department noted that the Metro Manila Council of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) had passed, in support of Republic Act 9344 or the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act, a resolution urging mayors and punong barangays in the National Capital Region (NCR) to establish such centers.
MMDA Resolution No. 07-13, which was approved by the Council composed of MMDA Chairman Bayani Fernando and the mayors of Metro Manila, noted that the DILG should monitor the establishment and management of the LGU child-caring centers.
The DILG reminded the concerned LGUs of their commitment to set up these centers, where CICL will be transferred only through a court order after a determination that the continued deprivation of liberty of these kids is necessary and that there is no appropriate alternative for detention.
DILG Secretary Ronaldo Puno had ordered jail wardens of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) as early as June last year to submit inventories of cases involving CICLs to the DILG regional offices.
He had also directed BJMP officials to stop accepting CICL in district, municipal and city jails nationwide.
Puno is a principal proponent of the “restorative justice” approach that seeks to enable inmates, most especially those who are neither hardcore criminals nor recidivists, to lead productive lives even behind bars, and to clear the way to their swift rehabilitation and reintegration into mainstream society upon their release from jail.
As a member of the Juvenile Justice Welfare Council (JJWC) created under RA 9344, the DILG has been tasked to assist in the inventory of CICL in provincial jails and PNP detention cells.
Signed into law by President Arroyo in April last year, RA 9344 mandates the immediate release of CICL from detention, but requires them to undergo diversion programs like counseling, capacity building, training and socio-civic work under DSWD supervision.
Under RA 9344, children below the age of criminal responsibility or those 15 years old or below are to be immediately released to the custody of his or her parents, guardians or nearest relatives.
Offenders who are between the ages of 15 years and one day and 18 years can be criminally charged only if they are found to have committed the crime with discernment. ##