The Neustrelitz prison in Germany seems an absurdity compared to the ‘munda ward’ of Tihar jail or juvenile homes across India. Set in the quiet countryside of West Pomerania, it houses 150 men and women between the ages of 19 and 25 who serve time under juvenile law. They have access to education, regular therapy and even time with rabbits as therapy. And, as a group of American journalists recently found out, they can talk to the media. Indian wardens would probably get apoplectic about such proposals.
In June 2015, Neustrelitz was part of a visit by the US magazine Vice and the Marshall Project to research alternatives to the US model of criminal justice. While we are looking at the US for cues, they are trying to solve growing figures of jail violence and recidivism. There are states in the US with no minimum age of criminal responsibility: even a child of 10 may be tried as an adult. No wonder it’s also the country with the highest proportion of imprisoned youth.