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JIS News

Stakeholders in the community service order programme in St. Ann, are endorsing the initiative as an effective means of rehabilitating young offenders and utilizing their skills to benefit society.
Alice Davis, guidance counsellor at the Ocho Rios Primary School, which has benefited from the work of orderees, told JIS News that the school was grateful for the service. “When the orderees come to us, they perform their duties well. Our schoolyard is well kept and our flower gardens are well maintained.
“We are indeed grateful for the service that they rendered at the school and we will continue to do our part in helping to accommodate them when they are being sent to us,” she said.
Ms. Davis was addressing a community service order stakeholders’ workshop held at the St. Ann’s Bay Baptist Church Hall on June 28. The event, held under the theme: ‘Community Service Order – Increasing skills, Self esteem and the Scope for Employability,’ served to provide an update on the programme in the parish and address issues and concerns.
Programme Coordinator, Donald Miller, told JIS News that the initiative has been working well in the parish. He noted that the programme has helped to create employment for the orderees as the officers try to match skills to particular tasks.
The community service order is one of the non-custodial sentencing options available for mostly first time, non violent offenders, age 17 years and older, who are required to serve between 40 and 360 hours of unpaid work, and possibly up to 480 hours if given consecutive or concurrent sentences.
“The offender is required to perform tasks arranged and monitored by the probation officer and supervised by the agency’s supervisor where the task is carried out,” Mr. Miller explained.
Community Service Order officer attached to St. Ann, Fredrick Hall, informed that 46 new orders were made by the court between March and May, with 23 case files closed. He said that of the number, “only one case had to be closed unsatisfactorily.”
Mr. Hall said that the stakeholders have been very cooperative and thanked them for the invaluable contribution that they have been making towards the enhancement and smooth functioning of the justice system.
Ex-orderee, Devon Whyte, said that the programme has been beneficial, in that it helped him to realize his true potential and allowed him to change his attitude. “I was glad when I got the community service order (because) I certainly did not want to go to prison,” he said.
Mr. Whyte served at the Moneague Primary and Junior High School for three months, and his task was to keep the school clean and beautify the grounds by planting flowers and trees. “I love agriculture and working at the school has allowed me to practise agriculture. I also did some hours working at the police station in the area but spent most of my time at the school and everything that I planted in the gardens there, would always prosper,” he said.
He is appealing to those young people, who see crime and violence as a solution to their problem, to cooperate with the justice system and abide by the law, “as it is right thing to do in order to remain a free man”.