Youth rehab is everybody's business - Spencer
Rehabilitation and successful reintegration of juvenile offenders into society must be given national priority, with all Jamaicans playing a part and not relying solely on the Department of Correctional Services (DCS).
That is the view of Rudyard Spencer, minister of state in the Ministry of National Security, who yesterday made a case for the empowerment of youth in Jamaica and across the globe.
"If we do not teach them, nurture them, respect them and facilitate their growth, what prospects do we have for tomorrow? Even though they have made mistakes, they can be redeemed. Our future depends on it," Spencer declared during a handover of books to the DCS during a ceremony at the Metcalfe Street Secure Juvenile Remand Centre, Denham Town.
He cited a 2010 study done by the United Nations International Children's Fund (UNICEF), which found that Jamaican children and adolescents account for approximately 26 per cent of perpetrators of major crimes, describing it as an unfortunate reality facing many nations.
"We cannot shut them out. We must engage them and be agents of change," Spencer appealed.
AIMING FOR MEANINGFUL IMPACT
"With purposeful rehabilitation, successful reintegration of our inmates and wards is possible. We have to continue to find ways to support the effective delivery of rehabilitation programmes and services. The books donated are a part of our drive to partner with corporate Jamaica to make a meaningful impact and, thereby, advance our efforts to reduce reoffending," said Spencer.
He continued: "I encourage everyone to play their part. Private sector, public sector, churches, NGOs (non-government organisations), everyone must take an active interest and participatory role in the development of our youth, especially those who are considered at risk.
"Reading is an escape. It gives you someplace to go when you have to stay where you are. For those in the care and supervision of the Department of Correctional Services, I challenge you to make good use of the resources you are given today. Read, be encouraged and expand your horizons," Spencer advised.
Meanwhile, Ina Hunter, commissioner of corrections, in thanking LMH Publishers, Ian Randle Publishers and the Kiwanis Club of Meadowvale for the donations of a wide range of books, pointed to the invaluable impact of reading on the human mind.
She reminded her audience to heed the advice of Jamaica's first national hero, Marcus Garvey: "Never forget that intelligence rules the world and ignorance carries the burden. Therefore, remove yourself as far as possible from ignorance and seek as far as possible to be intelligent."