Experiences in a rehabilitation programme: Case studies of male juvenile offenders in a correctional school in Vietnam
While the challenge of rehabilitating juvenile offenders has attracted international research interest, the rehabilitation of juvenile offenders in Vietnam has received little research attention. This study employed a qualitative collective case study approach to gain insights into how eight juvenile offenders perceived and experienced a rehabilitation programme in a correctional school in Vietnam. It drew on the perspectives of juvenile offenders, teachers and one manager. Deprivation, importation and Aker’s social learning theories provided a theoretical framework to explore the juvenile offenders’ experiences. Data were collected through observations, interviews and document analysis supplemented by field notes and a research journal. Data were then analysed thematically. The findings suggest that individual characteristics, family and peers played roles in the development of juvenile offenders’ antisocial behaviours and in their engagement with the rehabilitation programme. These roles could be positive and negative. The case studies illustrate the ways in which the programme was perceived to influence the young people’s thinking and behaviour in positive and negative ways. For instance, the eight young participants all recounted examples of modifying their behaviour in a deliberate attempt to ‘game’ the staff. This was done in order to gain preferential treatment, and as a means to coping with the ‘pains’ of incarceration. The case studies illustrated short coming in the current provision of educational and vocational training programmes intended to support reintegration into the community. A lack of alignment between the school programmes and future educational and labour market opportunities is likely to potentially undermine the policy goal of successful reintegration into the community. Based on the findings of this study, it is proposed that rehabilitation policy and practice in Vietnam should be reviewed and reformed. This study highlights the need to better meet the social, emotional and educational needs of young people in the Vietnamese juvenile justice system. Future research and policy initiatives should be focused on minimising recidivism and supporting reintegration into society on release. There should be guidelines to ensure there is active cooperation between families, the correctional schools and local authorities. It is recommended that the family should be involved in youth rehabilitation processes in the correctional school.