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a systemic inquiry

Juvenile Reforms by Design is a systems project conducted during my academic term at NID and looks at how design can be used to introduce more human-centered reformation practices in the system.

The Juvenile Justice System is the primary system that aims to reform children under 18 years who are convicted of criminal offenses. Juvenile by definition is a child who unlike an adult, having not attained the prescribed age, cannot be held solely liable for his/her criminal act (6). Thus, if a child commits a crime, it reveals a larger tear in the fabric of society.

This project starts with a look at the reformation in the juvenile justice system through a human-centered lens throwing light on the pain-points of stakeholders at multiple stages and challenges to reformation.
It concludes with design interventions to make reformation a participatory process led by children as a contributing element of the society and a model critiquing and questioning aspects of the current system.

Team : Aishwarya Narvekar, Aishwarya Rane, Kamal, Pankaj

The project was presented at RSD8 Symposium, 2019, and has a published paper as a part of the DR4C Symposium with Design Museum, London, 2019.

Link to RSD8 Symposium Paper and Presentation


Reformation and rehabilitation of children below 18 years of age who come in conflict with the law are overseen by the Juvenile Justice System in India. 
The Juvenile Justice System in India has been largely inaccessible and lesser-known for a long. The children who come into the purview of this system for reformation re-enter society as adults after a maximum stay of 3 years.

As designers, the role of children and their journey as primary stakeholders in the complex system of justice and reformation intrigued us.

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The project began with the purpose of finding the most effective method of reformation for juvenile delinquents in India and later evolved into an understanding of the role of design and designers in the process of reform and rehabilitation.

 Some of the questions that framed our research were -

-What is justice and reformation?

-How can design play a role in improving and defining reformation practices?

-Why do our social systems make it so necessary for children to passively imbibe but almost impossible to contribute a voice?

The research through design was human-centered and participatory. Meeting stakeholders across the system and visit across 4 Observation Homes in Mumbai and Ahmedabad.

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-Isolation of children at their prime in the observation homes from the society (they are supposed to integrate back in) negatively affects them psychologically and how the society perceives them. This plays a major deterrent to reformation intended by the system.

-There is a lack of legal education imparted to children in the country. As a result, there is no clear understanding of the law, their own rights, and the consequences of their actions.

-Due to the complicated and varied social structure of our society, a lot of children who are inside the Observation Homes have been normalized to things, actions, and thinking which isn’t considered okay by the larger society. There is a difference in understanding right and wrong.

-Education, peer pressure, lack of family planning, and ill-parenting play a role in the rise in the number of children at risk of falling under the purview of this system.



A rich diagram representing systemic visualization of the Juvenile Justice System in India, its elements, and interactions.
The Gigamap captures the journeys of 4 different juveniles through the system and their interactions, pain points, and impact at each stage. It captures our journey through the project - from understanding the system to a human-centered lens, questioning the practices and their impact, and design interventions for better reforms.


Click on the map to view in detail

Apart from gigamap and Critical Design model of Future Observation Homes, the project had two more design outcomes that aimed to tackle two core problems we came across in the system - lack of comprehension of the impact of individual actions and lack of legal education across children from all backgrounds. 


ResQ is a design intervention developed to bring in restorative justice practices for reformation in the Juvenile Justice System in India. ResQ provides counselors, parents, and adults with a tool/method of conducting restorative circles for children


Illustrated IPC
(Indian Penal Code) for children

Indian Penal Comics intends to open up the topic of law to children in a way where it would be easy and engaging for them to imbibe - through stories, adventures, and characters they can relate to.
It is designed as a tool to bring legal education to children in a relatable form.


-The project was presented at the Relating Systems Thinking and Design (RSD8) Conference at IIT Institute of Design, Chicago held in October 2019. 

-A paper on the project was published in Design Research for Change Symposium Journal by Design Museum, London and Lancaster University in 2019.

-The project was presented at Design for Social Development Conference held at the National Institute of Design, Gandhinagar in February 2019.

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