The Government has earmarked some $185 million for the renovation of remand facilities and police stations to house juveniles.
This is among several measures recently approved by Cabinet, following a submission from the joint Inter-Ministerial Working Group set up to review and improve the welfare of children in state care.
Of the amount, approximately $110 million has been set aside to undertake works at the South Camp Road Rehabilitation Centre in Kingston to facilitate an exclusive remand area for girls.
Minister of National Security, Hon. Peter Bunting, who outlined details of the undertaking at a press conference on Monday, May 27, at Jamaica House, informed that work is expected to commence shortly and is slated for completion by the end of September.
He noted that the renovation of the centre will entail, among other things, the provision of classroom space to accommodate various types of remedial training, and art and drama programmes.
Meanwhile, Youth and Culture Minister, Hon. Lisa Hanna, announced that $75 million is to be spent to commence work on the first five of 14 police stations across 12 parishes.
The stations are located at Barrett Town, St. James; Moneague, St. Ann; Bridgeport, St. Catherine; Nain, St. Elizabeth; and Four Paths, Clarendon.
The project will be carried out by the Ministry of Transport, Works and Housing through the Jamaica Emergency Employment Programme (JEEP) Secretariat. The allocation will also be used to upgrade facilities at the Rio Cobre Correctional Centre for Boys in St. Catherine.
Work on the remaining nine police stations will commence at a later date. These are located at Frome, Westmoreland; Stewart Town, Trelawny; King’s Vale, Hanover; Castleton, St. Mary; Manchioneal, Portland; Porus, Manchester; Central Village, St. Catherine; and Admiral Town, Kingston; and in St. Thomas, at either the Trinityville or Cedar Valley police station.
The Inter-Ministerial Working Group has also recommended the provision of additional staff for the Office of the Children’s Advocate (OCA), to enable the regular inspection and monitoring of juveniles in correctional centres.
Additionally, a pool of specialists, including psychiatrists and psychologists will be put in to place to deal with children, who have serious psycho-social and psychological issues. They will work with the Department of Correctional Services (DCS), Child Development Agency (CDA), and the OCA.
Parents of children, who are detained, will also be required to participate in a structured development programme, which will provide support for them as well as their parents.
Additionally, it is mandated that a standard assessment and care plan must be completed for all children entering the juvenile justice system. This plan must include risk assessment, detoxification, medical screening, referral to specialists, psychiatric/psychological assessment and counselling, education needs, and scheduling of case management.
It is also suggested that the OCA and the CDA be immediately notified, once a child is remanded at a police station, so that he/she is not held there for more than 48 hours. A liaison officer from the CDA is to be appointed at each station for this purpose.
The joint group Inter-Ministerial Working Group, which Minister Hanna convened last September, comprises representatives from several Ministries and agencies, including the Ministries of Youth and Culture; Justice; National Security and Education.
Contact: Athaliah Reynolds-Baker