Juvenile jail India

Juvenile Justice?

Shuchi Kapoor

New Delhi, India. November 2014

A brutal gang rape in December 2012 changed the way the public looked at juvenile and child offenders in India. The assault, which resulted in the death of the victim, prompted the government to amend the Juvenile Justice Act to allow minors above the age of 16 to be tried in courts as adults with the possibility of facing life imprisonment and capital punishment. The decision has perhaps ruled out opportunity to reform child offenders.

To spend a few hours inside an Observation Home for juvenile boys in New Delhi is not an experience one usually gets in a lifetime. Each boy in here has committed a crime, from minor thefts to murders and rapes. But the presence of so many young people in this environment raises many questions. Will they have an opportunity to repent for their mistakes? If they are released, what guarantees are there that they won’t become repeat offenders? Do iron fists and barbed wires ensure change and reforms?

The key to reform is to understand the backgrounds of these young boys and create avenues to engage them constructively after their time in the Observation Centres. This photoessay offers a glimpse to the life of these boys inside one such place.