Youth Farm "Seehaus"
- Faith Based Programme for Juvenile Delinquents as Alternative to Prison -
Foto: with friendly permission of A.M.I. GmbH
Crime is a problem of the whole society. Imprisonment is necessary for some cases. A high recidivism rate after imprisonment shows, that especially new concepts and forms are necessary - especially for juveniles. For such a concept the needs of all groups involved have to be taken in consideration - the needs of victims, the community, offenders and their families:
Minister of Justice Prof. Dr. Ulrich Goll made it possible for the first time in Germany that juvenile offenders can serve their prison term in a programme of a NGO. 14-23 year old juveniles and young adults who are sentenced to a prison term of about 1-4 years are eligible for the programme. After being sent to prison they can apply for the innovative form of a juvenile prison. A committee of prison staff, the governor and staff of Prisma will decide whether somebody is eligible for the programme. He will then stay for 12-18 months in the Youth Farm "Seehaus".
The aim of the programme is that the juveniles learn how to live a life without crime. The juveniles have to learn, to take on responsibility.
- for their past - by participating at a Victim Awareness Group, a Sycamore Tree Project, community service and- on a voluntary basis - a Victim-Offender-Reconciliation-Meeting
- for the present - by living together with other students and staff and cultivating a community of love and a positive peer group environment
- for the future - by preparing for a life without crimes, for a life in and for the community
- before God and fellow human beings
The young offenders are separated from older prisoners in order to protect them from negative influence. They are housed in an old farm - the Youth Farm "Seehaus". They live in groups of 7 students together with a family or house parents. Through a positive group concept they learn to take on responsibility for themselves, for each others and for the programme.
- The perspective of victims is shown to the students. Restoration, Community Service and Victim-Offender-Reconciliation-Meetings help the students to take on responsibility for their crimes and give a (symbolic) restitution towards the victim and the community.
- In order to give a good foundation for their future life, the students are challenged in the following areas:
- School: the students receive school education with the goal to get their High School Diploma.
- Work & Vocational Training: the students help to renovate the historic buildings on the property, they can choose between different workshops and get vocational training in the area they have chosen.
- Athletics: through athletic activities the feeling of self-worth can be increased, legitimate ways of receiving affirmation within the community and they learn to practice a team spirit.
- Leisure time activities: the students learn how to use their free time by meaningful leisure time activities.
- A change of life style can be reached best by a change of the norms and values of a person. Staff and volunteers of Prisma live a Christian life style and show by their example what it means to put Christian norms and values into practice and to live as a Christian. These norms and values can also be internalised through devotions, church services and other Christian programmes.
- Integration into the community is reached by a cooperation with Churches, youth groups, athletic clubs, NGOs and with the local economy.
Volunteers play an important role in the lives of the students. Godparenting, mentoring, study groups and leisure time activities are some of the activities which are offered by volunteers.