Do Not Write Off Children in Juvenile Centres – Spence Jarrett


Children, who are sent to juvenile correctional facilities, are seen by many as irredeemable, but Acting Commissioner of Corrections, June Spence Jarrett, says that while a number of them pose behaviour challenges, they can be rehabilitated.
In urging the society “not to write off these children,” she says that a number of former juvenile offenders have gone on to achieve personal and professional success.
“If you are to look at the profile of one or two of these children, one of the many things they are charged for is being uncontrollable. But, we have a number of success stories. reform is possible,” she tells JIS News.
She cites the case of a girl, who was placed at the Armadale Juvenile Correctional Centre in St. Ann, and who now has her own business. “There are those who pass through Hill Top Juvenile Correctional Centre (St. Ann) and are now customs brokers. We have this young lady from Armadale, who is a diploma trained teacher and she is now completing her degree at the Mico University College. This goes to show that these children are redeemable,” she states.
Mrs. Spence Jarrett credits the success stories, in large part, to the Government’s rehabilitation programmes in the correctional centres. She says that while there are challenges to the rehabilitation process, these can be overcome through greater support from the parents and the society on the whole.
“What we need to have is for parents to take up their responsibilities. We need parents to accept the whole business of reintegration and resettlement, which are very important,” she says.
“We can do all that we can in the institutions, but they (children) must be released to their parents one day, and while they are in the institutions they (parents) need to maintain contact,” she adds.
According to Mrs. Spence Jarrett, the centres provide avenues for parents to spend time with their children, but many do not make use of the opportunity. “We do have programmes that facilitate parents. Some parents attend, some don’t. For example, every school term we have what is called ‘probation day’, where the parents and the probation officers have a seminar and they get to interact and meet with their children, but not many of them turn up to these programmes,” she laments.
“We need the parents to shoulder their responsibilities because the children get discouraged when they are not in touch with them, especially when we have programmes and parents do not turn up. Parents cannot relegate their responsibilities to Government; I am pleading to parents not to write off their children,” she appeals.
The Acting Commissioner of Corrections, is also calling on the society, to assist in the rehabilitation effort. “These children need someone to love them, someone to care for them. You must find time for these children because some of them are angry.they have been abused, and neglected. So they lose trust from an early age,” she points out.
Juvenile Correctional Centres formerly known as Approved Schools are educational institutions providing security, rehabilitation and training to a special group of juveniles. These institutions cater to young people ages 12 to18, who are ordered by the courts to be removed from their normal surroundings and placed in a more controlled environment.
The island has four juvenile facilities, which are categorized as security and medium security. The high security facilities are for those, who commit very serious offences and require very strict discipline and maximum control, and comprise Hill Top and the St. Andrew Remand Centre in Stony Hill which accommodates boys, who are awaiting sentencing or placement in another facility.
The medium security facilities accommodate youngsters, who are deemed to be of a lower risk level. The Rio Cobre Juvenile Correctional Centre located at Tredegar Park in Spanish Town and Armadale, fall into this category.
Rio Cobre has the largest capacity of 120; Hill Top holds 98 persons; St. Andrew Remand Centre, 48; and Armadale, 40.
All four centres offer education, recreation, behaviour modification, and vocational training activities.

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