The Ministry of Justice will be ramping up its Child Diversion programme in schools, as it seeks to implement increased use of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) methods in these institutions.
Portfolio Minister, Hon. Delroy Chuck, made the disclosure during the official opening of the Greenwich Town Restorative Justice Centre, at the Greenwich Town Resource Centre, St. Andrew, on Friday (April 8).
“We will be taking this into the schools so that the guidance counsellors who identify a wayward child can refer him or her to the child diversion officer. If they need psychological help, they will get it, but most often they need mentoring. We have trained over 30 mentors to be able to assist children who have gone astray,” he informed.
Child diversion is the process of implementing measures for dealing with children who are alleged, accused of, or recognised as having infringed the penal law, without resorting to formal judicial proceedings.
The Justice Ministry established this method of intervention to rehabilitate children who have committed a diversion offence, reduce the number of children exposed to the criminal justice system, and empower communities to re-socialise child offenders.
Mr. Chuck said the Ministry is looking at training additional mentors to offer psychological support to children who are in need of this intervention.
He also noted the increased public sensitisation of ADR to ensure universal access to justice.
“We must learn to live with one another and resolve the disputes with each other in appropriate ways, and that is why the Ministry of Justice is embarking on those programmes to take ADR right across Jamaica,” he said.
The opening of the Greenwich Restorative Justice Centre is part of the Ministry of Justice’s sustained effort to increase the use of ADR methods in the dispensation of justice.
This brings the number of stand-alone Restorative Justice Centres to nine, and the 20th Justice Centre across the island.
These centres provide an avenue through which the Government offers alternative justice services and social intervention programmes to resolve conflicts and to restore peace in communities.