on 3 December 1998
Panel on Security
Rehabilitation of Offenders -
A new short-term residential programme for young offenders
This paper presents a proposal on a new short-term residential programme for young offenders.
2. In 1996, the Standing Committee on Young Offenders of the Fight Crime Committee commissioned the City University of Hong Kong to conduct a research on the effectiveness of rehabilitation programmes for young offenders operated by the Correctional Services Department (CSD) and Social Welfare Department (SWD). The research completed in 1997 finds the existing rehabilitation programmes effective in general. However, it reveals a service gap for young male offenders who are physically not fit to attend the Detention Centre programme, and young female offenders who are regarded as being in no moral danger. As a result, for male offenders, they are either put on probation, which may be too lenient, or sent to Training Centre, which may be too harsh in terms of length of detention. Similarly, there is also a lack of intermediate sanction between Training Centre Order and Probation Order for young female offenders. A note on the existing Detention Centre and Training Centre programmes operated by the CSD is at Annex
3. The research suggests, inter alia, that some form of short-term residential training be provided by CSD to cater for the above offenders. In pursuance of the recommendation, the development of a short-term residential programme for young offenders to fill the existing service gap was included in an action plan drawn up on the basis of the research recommendations to improve the rehabilitation programmes for young offenders. This action plan was endorsed by the Fight Crime Committee in March 1998. The proposed short-term residential programme which would provide an additional sentencing option for the court also has support from the Judiciary.
The Proposed Programme
Objective and clientele
4. The proposed programme will be a short-term, more focused correctional and rehabilitation programme built in with community-based measures to provide an intermediate sanction between the existing Training Centre programme and non-custodial measures. The new programme will target young offenders who are aged between 14 and 20, who have not had a long string of previous convictions and whose offences are not serious in nature. It will cater for cases where a long period of training in a Training Centre (six to thirty-six months) is not justified by his/ her offence(s), but who may not rehabilitate effectively through non-custodial measures such as fines or probation. Potential clientele would include young male offenders who are found physically not suitable for detention in a Detention Centre and female offenders who are not in moral danger. As is in the case of sentence to a Training Centre or a Detention Centre, pre-sentence assessment on a young offender will be made by CSD before he/she is sentenced to the proposed new programme.
5. The objectives of the proposed programme are -
- to deter young offenders from committing further crimes;
- to dislodge their delinquent values and behaviours;
- to help them develop a set of socially-accepted behaviour and respect for law;
- to equip them with necessary social and life skills to enhance their problem solving capacity; and
- to provide them with opportunities to learn necessary skills to reintegrate into society and cope with life by practising them.
6. The proposed programme will provide two to five months' training in a correctional facility (to be named as Rehabilitation Centre) followed by one to four months' mandatory residence in a halfway house, thus the total detention period would range from a minimum of three months to a maximum of nine months. The indefinite training period is in line with existing programmes for young offenders except those serving a prison term.
7. Participants of the programme will be first exposed to a penal environment with strong emphasis on discipline and then to a halfway house setting in which their criminal behaviours and reintegration needs can be addressed in a more flexible and personalized manner, and where they can try out and test what they have been taught to cope with their problems and life situation in the course of social reintegration.
8. During the first phase of the programme, there will be disciplinary training, characterised by stringent demands on personal appearance, deportment and hygiene, etc which aims to help the offenders learn to accept discipline and exercise better self-control and develop regular living pattern. In parallel, counselling and life/social skills training will be provided to strengthen their capacity to cope with personal problems and life situations after release. Basic work skills training will also be provided to assist participants to cultivate positive work habit and attitude, as well as to gain confidence in themselves.
9 During the second phase of the programme, i.e. after the short period of disciplinary training, participants would be assigned to a halfway house setting where they would be allowed to go out for work, attend vocational training and educational courses, serve the community and have contacts with their family members, friends and employers. Through this part of the programme, which is built in with community-based measures, offenders will be assisted to re-establish meaningful family and social relationship and stand up to the pressures and challenges of normal life after release.
10. On-going assessment will be conducted on each participant through regular review on his/her progress, say in respect of improvement in behaviour, self-care ability and response towards counselling, etc. Based on these assessments, a Board of Review shall determine when an offender shall be released.
11. Participants released from the proposed programme will be subject to one-year aftercare supervision. While under supervision, he/she shall comply with the requirements stipulated in the supervision order, which may include conditions such as meeting the supervising officers at stipulated intervals and refraining from association with persons who have a criminal record or who have any connection with the offence for which he/she was sentenced. Failing to comply with the supervision order may result in his/her being recalled to the Rehabilitation Centre for further detention and training.
12. A new piece of enabling legislation would be required for introducing the additional correctional programme. We plan to introduce the proposed legislation in the second half of the 1998/99 legislative programme and aim to commence the new short-term residential programme in 2000.
AnnexTraining Centre Programme
This programme provides for young offenders, aged between 14 and 20, and convicted of a criminal offence, an indeterminate period of training ranging from a minimum of 6 months to a maximum of 3 years.
Education and Vocational Training
2. All inmates are required to undergo half-day education training and half-day vocational training commensurate with their previous educational attainment and work experience. Education classes with standards ranging from primary to secondary levels are conducted by qualified school masters. Vocational training is conducted by qualified lecturers and instructors and covers such trades as typing, food and beverage services, carpentry, printing, electrical fitting and installation, refrigeration and air-conditioning and plumbing.
3. In an effort to improve their general fitness, widen their interests and refine their characters, physical and recreational activities, hobby classes, scouting, guiding activities and the Hong Kong Award for Young People Scheme are organized.
Never Again Association
4. Never Again Association's gatherings provide opportunity to strengthen the relationship and mutual understanding between the inmates and their family members as well as enlist the support of their families in assisting the inmates' social re-integration after release.
Board of Review
5. The progress of each inmate is assessed by an internal Board of Review. His promotion in the "Grading System" depends on his response to training and determination to lead an industrious life. The Board will approve an inmate to be released when it is considered that an inmate has reached his peak and that employment or a place in full-time studies has been arranged for him.
6. After release, an inmate shall be subject to a statutory period of supervision of three years. During this period of post-release supervision, an aftercare officer monitors the progress of the ex-inmate in complying with the conditions of supervision including engagement in a decent job or enrolment in an educational institution, meeting their aftercare officer on a regular basis, and refraining from criminal affiliations, etc. The aftercare officer also conducts field visits to the ex-inmates as well as his family. A breach of any of the supervision conditions by the supervisee may result in his being recalled for a further period of institutional training until the expiry of 3 years from the date of his first admission, or 6 months from the date of his being apprehended under the recall order, whichever is the later.
Detention Centre Programme
Under the Detention Centre Ordinance, a young offender aged between 14 and 20 sentenced to a detention centre can be detained for a minimum period of 1 month to a maximum period of 6 months. In addition, those young adult offender aged 21 to 24 who may benefit from the detention centre programme can also be sentenced to detention therein under the Ordinance for a minimum period of 3 months up to a maximum of 12 months.
2. The programme is designed to instill among the inmates a respect for the law, the creation of self respect, an awareness of neglected capabilities in legitimate pursuits, and an ability to live with other people in harmony. Emphasis is placed on hard work, strenuous exercise, and the highest standard of discipline; the intention being to provide the inmate with a "Short, Sharp, Shock" in the early stage of his deviation from law and order. The high tempo and brisk pace are designed to extract the very best effort from the inmates.
Never Again Association
3. Never Again Association's gatherings will be held for the inmates and their family members in the centre. It aims to improve their relationship and mutual understanding as well as to enlist the support of the inmates' family in assisting the social reintegration of the inmates upon their release.
Board of Review
4. A progressive system is adopted and a Board of Review assesses the progress, attitude, effort and response of each inmate at monthly intervals. An inmate must have secured suitable employment or a place in a school before he is determined by the Board to be released.
5. After release, they shall be subject to a statutory period of supervision for one year. During this period, an aftercare officer will maintain regular contact with each ex-inmate and his family to give assistance and counselling where necessary. A breach of any condition in the supervision order may result in his being recalled for further detention; (i) in the case of the young offenders, until the expiry of 6 months from the date of his first admission or 3 months from the date of his being arrested under the recall order, whichever is the later, and (ii) in the case of young adult offenders, until the expiry of 12 months from the date of his first admission or 3 months from the date of his being arrested under the recall order, whichever is the later.