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Prime Minister Bruce Golding announced Tuesday (March 2) that juvenile correctional and remand facilities are to be removed from the Correctional Services and placed under the Child Development Agency (CDA).
“The Correctional Services are designed for treating with adult criminal offenders. The objective of their incarceration is both punishment and rehabilitation. We do not consider this to be the correct institutional or policy framework for treating with delinquent children who need to be reformed, cared for and mentored – not punished,” Mr. Golding said.
The Prime Minister stated that the CDA would be better able “to provide the type of support that these children require”. He added that the Attorney-General is to be advised on the legal and/or legislative actions required to give effect to the decision.
Mr. Golding made the announcement as he listed a number of measures, in the House of Representatives on Tuesday (March 2), to address the issue of adequate accommodation for children placed in custody of the State by the Courts. He was responding to the Report of the Commission of Enquiry into the May 22, 2009 tragedy at the Armadale Juvenile Correctional Centre, St. Ann, in which seven girls perished in a fire at the institution.
Other measures he announced were:Work will commence within the next few weeks on the renovation and outfitting of the Montpelier Youth Camp in St. James to provide accommodation for 250 children. It will be designated a juvenile correctional centre for boys in respect of whom correctional orders have been issued by the Courts;Boys currently housed at the Rio Cobre Juvenile Correctional Centre will be relocated to Montpelier, when it is completed. Thereafter, the Rio Cobre Centre will be designated a juvenile correctional centre for girls;The former youth camp at Cape Clear in St. Mary, now being used as the regional offices of the Social Development Commission (SDC) will be converted into a juvenile remand centre, to house boys who are to be taken before the Court or are awaiting a decision of the Court. Boys being housed at the St. Andrew Remand Centre in Stony Hill will be transferred to Cape Clear and the Stony Hill facility will then be designated a juvenile remand centre for girls. The intention is to ensure that children on remand are housed in separate facilities from those who are the subject of correctional orders;As soon as the Cape Clear facilities become operational, there will be no reason for children to be held at police stations longer than is necessary to arrange for them to be transported to the Cape Clear facility. Nor will any of these children have to be held at adult correctional institutions. Court room space will be provided at Cape Clear so that children housed there will not have to leave the premises for attendance at court;The Hill Top Juvenile Correctional Centre in St. Ann will be retained as a high security facility for boys. The Diamond Crest Correctional Centre in St. Elizabeth will be used for girls who have particular behavioural problems and require special attention.
The Prime Minister said that the Jamaica Defence Force will be undertaking the works to be carried out at both Montpelier and Cape Clear, and they have been mandated to have the facilities ready as early as possible. He also said that arrangements are being made for the SDC’s regional offices to be relocated to the new Port Maria Civic Centre, which is almost completed.
Mr. Golding said that the Report was “considered at length” by the Cabinet on Monday, and has also been referred to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), the Acting Commissioner of Police and the Public Service Commission, for the appropriate actions to be taken in relation to those persons whose conduct were called into question by the findings of the Commission.
The Acting Commissioner of Police has already ordered the interdiction of four members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), while investigations into their conduct are carried out. Mr. Golding said that where he has the authority, appropriate action will also be taken by him.