President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on Monday ordered the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to accommodate youth offenders in its 30-year-old National Training School for Boys in Tanay, Rizal so that they could continue their studies and even engage in livelihood programs while in jail.
The President issued the directive to DSWD Secretary Esperanza Cabral when she inspected the newly built Center for Restorative Activities Development and Learning Experiences (CRADLE) at Camp Bagong Diwa, Bicutan, Taguig City this morning.
Some 160 youth offenders, also known as children in conflict with the law, are presently housed at the 800-capacity CRADLE. The Tanay boys’ facility, on the other hand, houses 350 former CICLs.
The CRADLE has a total of 18 “dormitories” spread out over its four floors. Each dorm contains a maximum of 25 people, while city and municipal jails lump together up to 50 jailbirds in hot, cramped jail cells.
The CRADLE was originally built for detainees of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) who were under the custody of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP).
It was later converted into the CICL’s halfway home with the passage on April 23, 2006 of Republic Act 9344, the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act which calls for the separation of child offenders from jaded adult criminals.
The facility is manned by 39 jail officers who perform custodial functions over the CICLs at eight jail officers per shift. Six social workers and 15 non-government organizations also help out in the “various programs aimed at promoting and protecting the physical, moral, spiritual, intellectual, and social well-being of the CICL.”
In cooperation with the Department of Education, the CRADLE offers non-formal education to the youth offenders whose cases run the gamut of “adult” cases, including murder, rape, robbery in band, theft, and others. –OPS/Gov.ph