Juvenile Recidivism Decreasing

Photo: M Sterling Minister of State in the Ministry of National Security, Senator the Hon. Pearnel Charles Jr. (right), addresses a function of the Department of Correctional Services, recently.

Story Highlights

  • Juvenile Recidivism is a system used to assess the circumstances under which a juvenile commits an offence.
  • Senator Charles pointed out that each child has a post-release liaison officer who follows and assists the juvenile with his or her reintegration into society.
  • Reaching Individuals through Skills and Education (RISE) Life Management Services as one of the organisations that support the diversion initiative to assist children based on their specific social issues.

State Minister in the Ministry of National Security, Senator the Hon. Pearnel Charles Jr., says juvenile recidivism is decreasing.

In an interview with JIS News, the State Minister also noted that fewer wards of the State are being detained, because of the diversion programme being used in the court system.

The programme, he explained, is a system used to assess the circumstances under which a juvenile commits an offence. Based on the findings, he noted, the child is assigned or diverted to a programme that will address the issues causing him or her to be a delinquent, instead of being locked away in an institution.

“We have the New Path programme that offers and facilitates weekly counselling, the implementation of educational and vocational training, conflict-resolution programmes, as well as the opportunity for apprenticeship and internship,” he explained.

Senator Charles pointed out that each child has a post-release liaison officer who follows and assists the juvenile with his or her reintegration into society.

The State Minister said the diversion approach has been one of the main reasons for the reduction in the recidivism rate.

“The purpose of diversion programmes is to redirect youthful offenders from the justice system through programming, supervision and support,” he added.

Senator Charles said diverting youth who have committed minor offences away from the system and towards community-based treatment and support options, such as assigning a probation officer, is a more appropriate response than confinement.

“It is a more productive way of addressing and preventing future delinquency. We also have our probation aftercare officer who addresses a lot of the social interaction aspects of the offensive youth, and this is a more direct approach that gets to the core and creates solutions,” he emphasised.

The State Minister cited the Reaching Individuals through Skills and Education (RISE) Life Management Services as one of the organisations that support the diversion initiative to assist children based on their specific social issues.

He said the New Path programme at the South Camp Road juvenile facility has played a big role in rehabilitating and reintegrating juveniles into society.

“Its impact has provided real results. There is a young girl at the institution who writes poems and wants to submit her pieces to the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC), and aspires to be the next Louise Bennett-Coverley (Miss Lou),” the State Minister added.

He said this young girl is an example of an individual who entered the correctional institution as a troubled or delinquent youngster, but will be leaving knowing her value and what she can give back to her country.

Senator Charles noted that in addition to the programme for the youths, the training of civilian teachers, volunteers and other correctional officers has been critical to the development and success of the diversion programme and the reduction of the juvenile recidivism rate.

JIS Social