Justices of the Peace (JPs) are being encouraged to get involved in the Restorative Justice process being undertaken by the Ministry of Justice, to help create a more peaceful society.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Carol Palmer, made the call as she addressed the recent installation ceremony for 35 new JPs for St. James held at the Montego Bay Convention Centre.
Her plea came against the background of recent violent incidents involving students, including the stabbing death of a student of the Anchovy High School in the parish last week.
According to Mrs. Palmer, the Restorative Justice programme seeks to pass on positive values and attitudes and create a more respectful and forgiving environment, which will reduce such unfortunate incidents.
She lamented that too many Jamaicans do not know how to settle differences and disputes peacefully, and instead, seek to attack each other physically.
She informed that the programme is being piloted in some 10 communities, including Granville in St. James, and urged the JPs to get involved in the initiative.
“I encourage you to learn more about this programme and to get yourselves certified as facilitators as we roll the programme out, and try to work at installing the positive attitudes and values,” she stated.
Turning to plans by the Justice Ministry to expand the role of JPs in the justice system, Mrs. Palmer said “the work is underway as we have a consultant in place and we expect the report by the end of next month.”
“We are going to be expanding the role of the Justices of the Peace in the court of petty session, increasing the number and the types of cases that you will do and of course, training will be part of that agenda,” she noted.
She stated that even as the responsibilities of the JPs are increased, “it is equally positive to have an increasing number of Justices of the Peace, because it is important that the services of JPs are readily accessible to citizens within their communities.”
The installation of the new JPs in St. James brings the number of justices serving the parish to 576. There are a total of 5, 969 JPs serving communities across the island.
By Glenis Rose, JIS Regional Office (Montego Bay)