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    • The Ministry of National Security has launched an initiative, which will significantly enhance the quality of rehabilitation for juvenile remandees at the South Camp and Metcalfe correctional facilities.
    • Funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), at a cost of US $1.93 million, the project will promote the emotional well-being of juveniles in correctional facilities.
    • The project will target young women who are currently awaiting their sentences, and serving out institutional orders at the South Camp female juvenile correctional facility, as well as females with serious behavioural problems in the care of the Child Development Agency.

    The Ministry of National Security has launched an initiative, which will significantly enhance the quality of rehabilitation for juvenile remandees at the South Camp and Metcalfe correctional facilities.

    The Organization of American States (OAS) and Trust for the Americas Project: ‘A New Path – Promoting a Healthy Environment and Productive Alternatives for Juvenile Remandees and Offenders in Jamaica’, will be of particular benefit to female remandees.

    Funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), at a cost of US $1.93 million, the project will promote the emotional well-being of juveniles in correctional facilities, and aims to reduce recidivism, and crime and violence as a whole.

    Specifically, the project will provide education, technical and vocational training, and enhance the case management follow-up system for remandees who are released from the South Camp and Metcalfe facilities. Social workers, parole officers, and civil society organizations will also be integrally involved in the project.

    Speaking at the launch at the Ministry’s Oxford Road offices, on November 19, Minister of National Security, Hon. Peter Bunting, welcomed the intervention.

    Pointing out that juvenile delinquency is often preceded by exposure to violence in homes and communities, Mr. Bunting said the programme, which will provide productive alternatives for juveniles, complements the government’s strategy for community safety and security.

    He noted that the administration has been placing emphasis on breaking the cycle of violence, and had mandated the Department of Correctional Services to increase its focus on rehabilitation and development.

    “In fact, this year we introduced a new programme to ensure that everyone who passes through (these) facilities, will be exposed to some minimum level of rehabilitation,” the Minister said.

    Mr. Bunting also noted that there has been renewed emphasis on coordinated social intervention programmes, and training activities geared at diverting at-risk persons from a life of crime. One significant success, he said, is the separation of juvenile and adult remandees, to allow for more targeted and effective rehabilitation of both groups.

    “In order to ensure that juvenile facilities operate at optimal levels, Boards of visitors were appointed for all juvenile centres, to provide greater oversight of the facilities,” he said.

    Mr. Bunting also highlighted the national child diversion programme, which seeks to refurbish child diversion centres and provide a range of social services to children in conflict with the law.

    He lauded the work of the Citizen Security and Justice Programme (CSJP), informing that over 6,000 persons have benefitted from life skills, vocational skills training, and tuition support. The original target was 3,500 persons.

    Meanwhile, Secretary General of the OAS, His Excellency Jose Miguel Insulza, said the project will pull together a team of Jamaican staff to achieve its goals, at the end of which a new case management system will be established. “We firmly believe that this project has an important future,” he argued.

    “We are grateful that we are working here in Jamaica where the Government is taking some significant steps – things that are not common in the Americas – to separate the juvenile remandees and the child offenders in (different) facilities dedicated to youth,” Mr. Insulza said.

    In her remarks, Commissioner of Corrections, Ina Hunter-Fairweather, said the project can be of immense value to “our efforts for rehabilitation and integration”.

    “We look forward to the benefits, particularly in the change that will occur in the lives of our wards,” she added.

    For her part, Mission Director of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Denise Herbol, said the agency is pleased to be involved in the programme, which will provide positive alternatives for at-risk youth, particularly young women. “It will be a ray of hope for these youth who have faced challenges and made mistakes in their young lives,” she noted.

    Also present at the launch was Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator the Hon. A.J. Nicholson.

    The project will target young women who are currently awaiting their sentences, and serving out institutional orders at the South Camp female juvenile correctional facility, as well as females with serious behavioural problems in the care of the Child Development Agency. Young men, who have been released from the Metcalfe Street facility for boys, will also be targeted for intervention.

     

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