Kingston, Jamaica (JIS) – Juvenile wards of the State at all correctional facilities will now benefit under the second phase of the programme dubbed ‘A New Path’.
The programme, which initially targeted wards at the South Camp Juvenile Remand & Correctional Centre and the Metcalfe Street Juvenile Correctional Centre, in Kingston, has been extended to the Rio Cobre and Hill Top juvenile correctional centres.
It 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.
Phase two will focus on strengthening the institutional capacity of the Department of Correctional Services and the Ministry of National Security.
The project, which is managed by the Organization of American States (OAS) and the Trust for the Americas, is financed by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) at a cost of US$2.5 million.
Speaking at the official launch at the South Camp Juvenile Remand and Correctional Centre in Kingston, today (March 7), Minister of State in the Ministry of National Security, Senator the Hon. Pearnel Charles Jr., hailed the initiative as the single most-effective and transformational programme under the umbrella of the Correctional Services.
“This is how we take a proactive stance to save our troubled youth. While we identify the problems and challenges, let us seek out solutions with vigour and urgency to engage them in sustainable and meaningful ways. There is no child, young man or woman living in Jamaica today who is irredeemable,” he said.
Senator Charles thanked the partners for their continued support, adding that “we are on a mission to save lives and provide second chances”.
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For her part, Mission Director of the USAID in Jamaica, Maura Barry Boyle, lauded the Ministry of National Security for restructuring its juvenile system to support the reintegration of youth.
“We recognise that vulnerable youth need support, they need education, technical and economic support to provide an alternative to a life of crime,” she said.
She urged the wards to take advantage of the opportunities they are receiving while in State care, adding that it will help with their progress. “Take what you can get while you are here; make the best of it,” she urged.
In her remarks, Organization of American States representative in Jamaica, Jeanelle van GlaanenWeygel, said through the programme, there has been a reduced number of conflicts in the facilities.
She noted that staff members are also better able to solve potential conflicts. “Preliminary data show that only 33 of the 317 young people released from South Camp and Metcalfe during 2015 and 2016 have returned to a juvenile correctional centre, which represents a recidivism rate of 4.62 per cent,” she said.
Superintendent in charge of the South Camp Road Juvenile Correctional Centre, Maulette White, welcomed the extension of the programme, adding that it has transformed the lives of the youth and staff.
‘A New Path’ programme offers and facilitates weekly counselling, the implementation of educational and vocational training, conflict-resolution programmes as well as the opportunity for apprenticeship and internship.
It also includes a music programme in collaboration with the National Youth Orchestra, and a sports aspect facilitated by the Youth for Development Network.
The project, which began in January 2015, was scheduled to end in January 2017, but has been extended until September 2019.
Juvenile correctional centres, formerly approved schools, are institutions providing educational services for children from 12 to 18 years of age.