Rehabilitation Programme at Rio Cobre Juvenile Facility Strengthened

Photo: Dave Reid Superintendent at the St. Catherine-based Rio Cobre Juvenile Correctional Facility, Martin Dryden (left), along with Overseer, Carol Johnson, look at the trophies the wards have won for participation in the Jamaica 4-H Clubs expositions, sports, and other activities.

Story Highlights

  • The rehabilitation programme for incarcerated youths at the St. Catherine-based Rio Cobre Juvenile Correctional Facility is being strengthened to assist their productive re-entry into society.
  • Their academic achievements, along with trophies and cash prizes won for showcasing their creative talents at the annual Jamaica 4-H exposition, have been a source of pride and motivation for the boys, he notes.
  • Curriculum Advisor at the OAS, Kimberly Seymour, shares that through coordination with the DCS, action plans have been developed to guide the training activities over the next year.

The rehabilitation programme for incarcerated youths at the St. Catherine-based Rio Cobre Juvenile Correctional Facility is being strengthened to assist their productive re-entry into society.

Under the ‘New Path’ project, the classrooms at the all-male facility were recently upgraded to allow for expanded skills training and HEART Trust/NTA certification.

Superintendent of the facility, Martin Dryden, welcomes the support under New Path.

“Our thrust is to have them (wards) in a position where they can play a role in nation-building.  They came in as part of the problem; now they will go out as part of the solution. That is my objective,” he says.

“I am all about rehabilitation, not punishment,” he emphasises.

The facility, which houses boys aged 12 to 18 years old, offers a rehabilitation programme that is focused on academics, skills training, and sports, among other activities. Among the skills areas are agriculture, food and nutrition, sewing, and winemaking.

Mr. Dryden tells JIS News that the boys have been doing well in the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) over the years.

Their academic achievements, along with trophies and cash prizes won for showcasing their creative talents at the annual Jamaica 4-H exposition, have been a source of pride and motivation for the boys, he notes.

New Path, which is being implemented in juvenile facilities across the island, is aimed at providing hope to marginalised young people who have come into conflict with the law by providing them with the requisite skills necessary for reintegration.

It offers and facilitates weekly counselling, technical and vocational training, conflict-resolution programmes as well as opportunities for apprenticeship and internship.

It includes a music programme, in collaboration with the National Youth Orchestra, and a sports aspect facilitated by the Youth for Development Network.

The initiative is being implemented by the Department of Public Security of the Organization of American States (OAS), in collaboration with the Trust for the Americas, and with the support of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

Commissioner of Corrections, Ina Hunter, says New Path has diversified programme offerings in juvenile institutions with an emphasis on psychosocial development and holistic programmes that address the needs and talents of children.

She says that the staff members have also been empowered, through training, to address and better manage the challenges that children face, thereby ensuring the sustainability of the initiative.

OAS Country Representative in Jamaica, Jeanelle van Glaanenweygel, explains that the programme works to uncover the potential of the incarcerated youth and help them to become “thriving citizens”.

She says it provides both the wards and the correctional officers with practical training in order to facilitate the reintegration process.

For USAID Country Representative, Jason Fraser, New Path is helping to improve the behaviour of the youth, while equipping them to become productive members of society.

“It presents the core areas and needs of the youth that should be targeted during the time in the correctional centres. It is fundamental to transform the juvenile system, and accomplish the reintegration of the young offenders,” he notes.

He commends the more-than-60 staff members at the DCS, which include correctional officers, case managers, and teachers, who are part of a “mission to assist the young people to achieve their full potential”.

Curriculum Advisor at the OAS, Kimberly Seymour, shares that through coordination with the DCS, action plans have been developed to guide the training activities over the next year.

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