JIS News

Story Highlights

  • It was a proud moment for John Smith* and Steve Roberts* as their sons were awarded certificates recently after successfully completing the Kingston and St. Andrew Family Court Children’s Drug Treatment Programme.
  • The fathers, who took time off from work to support their children, were joined by other supportive family members and friends who turned out at the Simón Bolívar Cultural Centre in downtown Kingston recently to share with the latest batch of four young men who had decided to shun a life of dependence on drugs.
  • The Children’s Drug Treatment Programme targets minors who are criminal offenders and drug-dependent. It aims to divert children from the criminal justice system into a programme of rehabilitation.

It was a proud moment for John Smith* and Steve Roberts* as their sons were awarded certificates recently after successfully completing the Kingston and St. Andrew Family Court Children’s Drug Treatment Programme.

The fathers, who took time off from work to support their children, were joined by other supportive family members and friends who turned out at the Simón Bolívar Cultural Centre in downtown Kingston recently to share with the latest batch of four young men who had decided to shun a life of dependence on drugs.

The Children’s Drug Treatment Programme targets minors who are criminal offenders and drug-dependent. It aims to divert children from the criminal justice system into a programme of rehabilitation.

Mr. Smith expressed gratitude for the programme. He said he was happy to source the money that allowed his son to participate in the drug detoxification component of the programme.

“Bwoy, I went through it and to reach the time now where these four youth can look in themselves and know that this programme help them a lot,” he said.

He encouraged the young men not to revert to a life dependent on substance abuse but instead to be positive role models for other members of society.

Mr. Smith thanked the organisers of the programme, noting that without their support, his son would have been locked up. “One of the time, the officer said to me, if the judge never like yuh, him would send yuh weh long time, but him love yuh, and the judge see what I’m going through,” he said.

His son, 16-year-old John Smith Jr* lauded the initiative, adding that it has assisted him in turning his life around.

“This programme is a good programme; it help yuh fi stop smoke and stop bad things, so mi jus’ a encourage all a di yutes dem out deh fi jus’ stop smoke,” he told JIS News.

The high-school student, who aspires to be a soldier, is encouraging other young people to resist the urge to use drugs and harmful substances.

“If you can’t just stop so easy because you are addicted, just go to detox and go run off (some) weeks,” he said.

Expressing appreciation for the initiative, Mr. Roberts said he is happy that his sixth child is being offered a second chance to turn his life around.

“It is very challenging for me ‘cause, trust me, sometimes I have to come to court, leave work, work at night and come to court. Bwoy mi a tell yuh, trust mi, it wicked but mi try fi deh deh by him side. Him could a feel seh mi nuh love him still, but mi love him bad,” he told JIS News.

Mr. Roberts encouraged the graduates to be law-abiding and respected citizens of the country and to continue making their parents and their friends proud.

“Mi a tell yuh, mi appreciate the drug programme. I hope you four graduates understand and can elevate the others to stay drugs free, to be a better person in the society for Jamaica land we love,” he said.

He thanked Senior Parish Court Judge, Kingston and St. Andrew Family Court, Hon. Mrs Paula Blake-Powell and her team for the terrific job they have been doing.

“I appreciate it because it could be worse than this. You could lock them up for more than two years or whatsoever, but this programme is very good,” he said.

Meanwhile, Justice Blake-Powell expressed gratitude to the partners who have contributed to the programme’s success over the years.

The treatment programme incorporates a team approach with intensive judicial oversight of the process, and intensive individual and group counselling sessions, weekly court attendance as well as frequent and random drug testing. The programme spans nine to 12 months and has specific phases that the participants are promoted to, once certain criteria are met.

The children’s drug treatment programme was started in September 2014 and involves supervision of drug-dependent offenders by a team comprising a judge, probation after-care officer and treatment providers specialising in substance abuse, counselling, drug detoxification and rehabilitation.

The programme is part of the Drug Treatment Courts, which have existed in Jamaica since 2001.

Children in need of care and protection or who exhibit uncontrollable behaviours with an associated drug dependency are also eligible for the programme.

The pilot of the children’s drug treatment programme commenced in 2014, with six participants graduating in 2016, while five received certification in 2017.

The programme involves collaboration with the Ministry of Justice, Kingston and St. Andrew Family Court, Child Protection and Family Services Agency, National Council on Drug Abuse, RISE Life Management Services, Organization of American States, and the United States Agency for International Development, under its Community Empowerment and Transformation Project.