Kampiringisa: Where child offenders serve their sentences

Fifty two kilometres away from Kampala on Masaka road is Uganda’s only juvenile detention centre located in Mpigi district.

It is here that juveniles between the ages of 12-17, who conflict with the law, are kept for rehabilitation  and isolated from their communities to serve their sentences.

Yet crime among children is on the rise with Kampiringisa Rehabilitation Centre registering over 1,000 juvenile offenders every week, according to Topista Mutooro the principal of the centre.

When the juveniles are arrested, they are first kept at remand homes as they await their court hearing and  those that are found guilty are relocated to Kampiringisa Rehabilitation Centre.

Depending on the nature of the crime, the sentences vary from 3 months to 3 years.

Mutooro said some juveniles at the facility have committed unimaginable crimes.

"Some have connived with their mothers and killed their fathers, others are on defilement sentences," she said.

Richard Balikoowa a lecturer at School of Psychology at Makerere University said some parents are to blame for the crimes committed by the juveniles because they don't look after their children well but in other cases, you cannot blame them.

A case in point is a one Ssemakula, who at 16 years of age joined a gang that used to terrorise his community against the advise of his parents.

When all has failed, Kampiringisa comes into play.

Yet one may ask: Has has the facility served its purpose?

For many children Kampiringisa has turned out to be their second home’ which they credit for restoring a ray of hope into their lives.

"I was scared. They told me they would cane us every day," said one of them.

Mutooro said the families and communities of the juveniles sometimes reject them when they have finished serving their sentences. This is why they resort to crime again.

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