This Life Beyond Bars
“I feel proud that the This Life Beyond Bars program continues to expand to benefit more and more children. The program is so important for children who are in prison and are looking for us to help. We have the opportunity to help strengthen their strengths, and to help them reflect on and make changes in their lives.” Chenchhouet Kimchhean, Vocational Training Case Manager
This Life Beyond Bars (TLBB) works with young adults in prison who are nearing the end of their sentence. Our goal is to ease their reintegration into their communities by providing vocational and life skills training and strengthening their family connections by facilitating family visits. Due to distance, lack of transportation or money it is not uncommon for family visits to prisons to be a rare occurrence.
TLBB evolved from conversations with community members about their concerns related to children who were in conflict with the law. These children were generally the poorest and most vulnerable and were being detained for petty offences. Villagers were concerned about the conditions inside prison, including the lack of educational opportunity.
Since November 2010, This Life Beyond Bars has worked with 140 young people in Siem Reap and Banteay Meanchey Prisons. In November 2016, in partnership with the International Committee of the Red Cross, TLBB was introduced at Phnom Penh’s CC2 prison.
(New Partnership to Improve Services for Young People in Phnom Penh’s CC2 Prison)
When the program began in Siem Reap Prison 60% of juveniles released from prison were reoffending within the first 6 months. The recidivism rate of students who complete the This Life Beyond Bars program and return to their community now sits at only 2% within the first 6 months, and 4% in total.
This comprehensive report highlights the overall success of TLBB in providing an alternative model of support for juveniles in prison, and for families with a parent in prison. The evidence presented positions TLBB as a good practice model in Cambodia.
(To learn more about our program for families with a caregiver in prison, go to: This Life in Family)
This Life Beyond Bars provides:
- Vocational Training, Life Skills and Personal Development:
Motor Mechanics, electronics repair, electrical installation and air-conditioning repair/maintenance skills are in demand and provide viable employment opportunities. Courses are government certified and students receive a certificate at the end of the program. Personal development training focuses on managing stress while in prison, developing goals, building self esteem, and confidence.
- Family Visits:
We provide practical and/or financial support for monthly visits from family members. This is vital not only for the mental and emotional health of the family but helps ease students return to their communities upon release.
- Case Management:
Students work with a dedicated case manager to help them define their goals for life after prison and support their return to their community. Case Managers maintain contact with the students post release for at least six months.
- Post Release Support:
As well as continued case management, we provide assistance in seeking further vocational training or in setting up a small business. Post release support is key in drastically reducing the recidivism rate.