JIS News

Children’s Advocate, Mrs. Mary Clarke, has supported Prime Minister the Hon. Bruce Golding’s call for funds to complete renovation at the Montpelier juvenile facility that will house 250 boys.
She is also in agreement that boys from Rio Cobre be relocated to Montpelier, so that the facility can be available for girls. There are approximately 107 girls now in State care, some of whom are serving time in adult correctional facilities and remand centres across the island.
Mrs. Clarke said she was relieved when the Prime Minister closed the Armadale Correctional Facility in May, following the horrific fire that claimed the lives of seven girls. She is currently represented by Attorney-at-law, Jacqueline Samuels Brown, at the Armadale Commission of Enquiry, watching on behalf of the children.
The Children’s Advocate recently highlighted matters for urgent action by the Department of Correctional Services (DCS). In June, she supported the Prime Minister’s instruction that improvements be made to the educational opportunities available at juvenile correctional institutions. At that time, the Prime Minister had ordered that the Ministry of Education, the Child Development Agency (CDA) and the DCS should meet and agree on an appropriate programme to ensure that the children’s education is not neglected. He also encouraged the introduction of activities at the facilities.
The Office of the Children’s Advocate told the Prime Minister that additional staff is needed within the DCS to provide better case management and treatment services. This would include full time psychologists, case managers to cover 24 hours, registered nurses, overseers, compound teachers/trainers and correctional officers.
Regarding the Child Care and Protection Act (CCPA), Mrs. Clarke recommended that the Council set up to oversee the application of the Act, is best placed to review and make recommendations on amendments to the Act. She stated her strong intent to marshal that effort. The CCPA governs the Children’s Advocate, the Children’s Registry and the Child Development Agency. Cabinet is to appoint the members, based on a recommendation of the Ministry of Health.
The Office of the Children’s Advocate, an instrument of Parliament, has been documenting the conditions of children in correctional institutions and pressing Ministries and Government agencies to make urgent improvements.

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