Minister of Youth and Culture, Hon. Lisa Hanna has announced measures by her ministry to address the welfare of juveniles remanded to correctional centres.
Minister Hanna issued the statement following a visit, along with a team of child care practitioners and psychiatrists, to the juvenile sections of the Fort Augusta Correctional Centre in St. Catherine and the Horizon Remand Centre in Kingston on Sunday (January 13).
The Minister says she has instructed the Child Development Agency (CDA) to work with the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) in the Ministry of National Security to do case work for the remanded juveniles. This will include the CDA seeking the review of court orders which confine children to correctional institutions for excessively long periods for uncontrollable behaviour.
The decision is in keeping with a previous commitment by the Minister to work with the Ministry of Justice for the introduction of a broader range of sentencing options for juveniles apart from incarceration.
Minister Hanna says she has already started discussions with the Minister of Health, Hon. Dr. Fenton Ferguson and with National Security Minister Hon. Peter Bunting to have more psychiatrists, counsellors and other child health professionals available to serve juveniles in the justice system.
The youth minister has also discussed with the Minister of Education, Hon. Ronald Thwaites, measures to improve and extend formal education and skills training for children in correctional centres.
During Sunday’s visit, Minister Hanna spoke at length with 39 young women housed in juveniles-only dormitories at Fort Augusta and 17 at the Horizon Remand Centre.
She says the need is urgent for the construction of a facility to house female juveniles adding that she is pursuing the matter at the Cabinet level.
Minister Hanna added that the creation of a model child health facility dedicated to behaviour modification and the therapeutic treatment and care of juveniles in State care, was high on the agenda of her Ministry.
The team which accompanied the Minister on her visit to the facilities included the president of the Medical Association of Jamaica and noted psychiatrist, Dr. Aggrey Irons; psychiatrist Dr. Myo Kyaw Oo, who currently works with the juveniles in incarceration; chief executive officer of the CDA, Mrs. Carla Francis Edie; Ms. Beverly McHugh, a social worker with the CDA; acting permanent secretary in the Ministry of Youth and Culture, Mr. Sydney Bartley; and Commissioner of Corrections Lt. Col. Sean Prendergast.
The visit forms part of the Minister’s islandwide tour of children’s homes, places of safety and juvenile correctional centres.
Recently she visited the Homestead Place of Safety in St. Andrew and the Rio Cobre Juvenile Correctional Centre in St. Catherine.