Teens earn their freedom

Location: La Paz, Cochabamba and Potosí, Bolivia
Duration: 3 years
Total cost: 1,512,500 USD

Give 900 adolescents a fair second chance

Problem statement

Adolescents come into conflict with the law for different reasons. Usually, these reasons are linked to their own vulnerability to violence, poverty, abandonment and neglect. Although Bolivia’s laws clearly align with international standards and human rights conventions with regard to how these adolescents should be treated, implementation of these laws is not always optimal. Today, 97% of detained adolescents are serving time without a sentence and 42% were charged with robbery, which is a petty crime.

On a more positive note, 10% of adolescents in conflict with the law in Bolivia are involved in alternatives to jail and prison that are more suitable for young people. These alternative measures are mostly offered in the Department of Santa Cruz. Here, the Government employs innovative approaches to working with young people through specialized services developed with the technical assistance of UNICEF Bolivia.

Justification

Detention is the most common measure applied by the Bolivian judiciary. Following international standards and national law, UNICEF promotes and supports alternatives for young people to give them the opportunity to recover by understanding the consequences of their actions, going through a social reintegration process and developing a life plan and new skill sets.

Santa Cruz’ programme is already demonstrating the effectiveness of providing these benefits to young people with 98.5% of adolescent beneficiaries avoiding any recidivism in criminal activities. The alternatives this programme offers includes vocational training, psychosocial support and medical treatment. Furthermore, the programme offers accompaniment – therapy and advice – to the families as well as legal assistance since many of them do not have sufficient resources to hire a lawyer.

Programme strategy

When adolescents commit crimes, society’s response must be multidisciplinary and carried out in a holistic manner. Police, teachers, prosecutors, judges, social workers and psychologists all can help address these problems and work with adolescents to correct their behaviors. Accompanying their families and communities and working with the media is also essential to the process.

This programme aims to form strategic alliances with authorities responsible for implementing holistic alternative measures for adolescents in conflict with the law; build the capacities of those responsible for sentencing young people; develop information systems; create monitoring and follow-up mechanisms; scale up advocacy; and implement awareness campaigns to help Bolivian society understand the problem. Special attention will be given to address differeing needs of adolescent girls in conflict with the law.

Objectives of the Action

The overall objective of this initiative is to offer alternatives to detainment for adolescents who are in conflict with the law by promoting specialized programmes in three departments (regions) of Bolivia: La Paz, Cochabamba and Potosí.

The specific objectives are the following:

  1. To work with three orientation/counselling centers where judges will refer adolescents in conflict with the law to serve sentences through alternative measures that do not deprive them of their liberty.
  2. To provide legal assistance, counselling and swift judicial procedures for cases involving minors.
  3. To develop and implement a strategy for prevention and sensitization.
  4. To design monitoring and follow up systems.

Partners

  • The Departmental Governments of La Paz, Cochabamba and Potosí
  • Children’s judges and prosecutors
  • Bolivian police officers
  • The Ministry of Justice’s Public Defense Office
  • Government ministries responsible for the police and citizen security
  • Primary and secondary schools
  • Municipal Offices for Child and Adolescent Protection/Defense
  • Communities, families, adolescents and children

Target groups

  • Adolescents boys and girls in conflict with the law from La Paz, Cochabamba and Potosí
  • Families and communities in La Paz, Cochabamba and Potosí

Beneficiaries

  • 900 adolescents in conflict with the law
  • 450 parents
  • 150 police officers, public defenders and official staff from courts and the prosecutor’s office
  • 5,000 adolescents in school
  • 30 staff members from the Municipal Offices for Child and Adolescent Protection/Defense
  • 3 departments’ social welfare services

Main activities

  • Work with departmental governments to open and operate three orientation/counselling centers where judges will send adolescents in conflict with the law to serve sentences through alternative measures.
    • Coordinate and advocate with departmental governments to open specialized adolescent centers in La Paz, Cochabamba and Potosí.
    • Operate counselling centers with adolescent-friendly spaces and vocational training for young people in conflict with the law (as an alternative to deprivation of liberty).
  • Provide legal counsel for adolescents and ensure procedural celerity for their cases.
    • Train personnel from courts, the prosecutor’s office, the police force, public defenders and Municipal Offices for Child and Adolescent Protection/Defense.
    • Provide holistic psychosocial and legal support to families of adolescents in conflict with the law.
  • Design and implement prevention and sensitization strategies.
  • Gather evidence and conduct monitoring and evaluation.
    • Gather evidence.
    • Monitor and evaluate progress and results.

Budget

Output / Line of Actions Expresed in USD
Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Total
1. Work with departmental governments to open and operate three orientation/counselling centers where judges will send adolescents in conflict with the law to serve sentences through alternative measures
Coordinate and advocate with departmental governments to open specialized adolescent centers in La Paz, Cochabamba and Potosí
Operate counseling centers with adolescent-friendly spaces and vocational training
300,00090,00090,000480,000
2. Provide legal counsel for adolescents and ensure procedural celerity for their cases
Train personnel from courts, the prosecutor’s office, the police force, public defenders and Municipal Offices for Child and Adolescent Protection/Defense
Provide holistic psychosocial and legal support to families of adolescents in conflict with the law
90,00060,00060,000210,000
3. Develop and implement prevention and sensitization strategies 85,00085,00085,000255,000
4. Gather evidence and conduct monitoring and evaluation
Gather evidence
Monitor and evaluate progress and results
75,00075,00075,000225,000
5. Technical assistance 58,50058,50058,000175,000
6. External communications and visibility 10,00010,00010,00030,000
Total programmable amount 618,500378,500378,0001,375,000
Recovery cost (10%) 61,85037,85037,800137,500
Total required budget 680,350416,350415,8001,512,500
Contact:
Rosana Vega,
Chief Child Protection,
rvega@unicef.org
Tel: +591.2.2623.291