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KINGSTON — An agreement was signed on December 19, 2011 by various stakeholders for the provision of intervention programmes for boys at the Metcalfe

Street Secure Juvenile Centre, in Kingston.

The agreement was signed by the Ministry of National Security, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), during a press briefing, held at the Ministry of National Security, Oxford Road, in Kingston.

Acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of National Security, Dianne McIntosh, said the Metcalfe Street facility is both hope and promise for the many young men who will enter the facility.

“The promise is one of care and protection while they are in the facility, and the hope is the programme of redirection that will help them to make the right choices when they return to their families and communities,” Miss McIntosh said.

“This is the primary goal of the rehabilitation programme, to reduce re-offending among youth returning to the community. We know that at least a third of youth incarcerated were previously admitted on multiple occasions for offences such as uncontrollable behaviour, unlawful possession of firearm and wounding with intent,” she added.

Miss McIntosh pointed out that the staff members of the facility will be a very important part of the success and sustainability of the rehabilitation programme.                                                                           

“We expect that this tradition of care and support will continue, as the staff relate to the young men in positive ways, guiding them through the process of change that will steer them away from trouble,” the Permanent Secretary said.

In this regard, the staff training component of this programme will help staff to develop and refine their skills to not only maintain order in the facility, but to understand the nature of youth development and associated behaviours, as well as ways to engage them in positive relationships for change.

For his part,  Co-ordinator and Resident Representative for the UNDP, Dr. Arun Kashyap,  said that offering medical, mental health screening, education and skills training, enhancing access to, and providing life skills to youth in the remand centre, will “minimise and/or eliminate recidivism.”

“The programme aims to upgrade and strengthen the skills of young workers, including life skills. It is clear that they should have the capabilities that would assist them in making lasting change in their living conditions. Effective juvenile justice programmes must also focus on addressing the underlying factors behind the offending behaviour of juveniles,” Dr. Kashyap said.

Meanwhile, Mission Director for the USAID in Jamaica,  Denise Herbol, welcomed the partnership, describing  it as “just the start of the USAID’s efforts to support the Government of Jamaica’s reform agenda for the juvenile justice system.”

“The agreement between USAID, UNDP and the Ministry of National Security underscores the international partners’ commitment to work directly with the Ministry to achieving its goals of ensuring public safety and the rights and wellbeing of youth, who find themselves in conflict with the law,” Miss Herbol said.

The US$350,000 being granted by the UNDP/USAID will also go towards conflict resolution and brings to reality a vision to equip the wards at the Metcalfe Street facility with emotional, educational and behavioural support.

Since its June 1 opening, the Metcalfe Street Centre has been accommodating male juveniles aged 13-17 years. The facility can accommodate 208 young boys.

Equipped with four classrooms, a multi-purpose room, medical complex, multi-purpose recreational court, computer room, library and resource centre, among other facilities, the centre meets international standards for rehabilitating offending juveniles.

Wards will receive psychological support, training in social and interpersonal relations, in addition to basic literacy and an educational curriculum up to CaribbeanSecondary Education Certificate (CSEC),level.