Obviously incensed by the death of a teenager in an adult penal institution last week, founder and executive director of the Mustard Seed Communities, Father Gregory Ramkissoon, has issued a broadside against the Government and questioned its priorities.
In an interview with The Sunday Gleaner yesterday, the usually mild-mannered Ramkissoon was agitated as he questioned the Government's decision to spend more than $60 million to purchase sports utility vehicles for ministers while the country is facing a financial crunch.
According to Ramkissoon, the purchase of the vehicles was particularly distasteful given that three years after the Armadale fire, which resulted in the deaths of several wards of the State, juveniles were still being housed in adult correctional facilities.
"This is a travesty of justice. We are making excuses for giving people vehicles costing millions, yet we don't have the money to put the nation's children in places of safety," said Ramkissoon. "We don't have to build; we can rent suitable facilities and get professionals to help the young girls," said the clearly upset Ramkissoon.
Relevance of CDA
He questioned the relevance of the Child Development Agency (CDA) - whose mandate includes the protection of children - if the young ones remain in adult facilities right under its nose.
"Why do we have a children's advocate or a CDA if we are still putting children in adult correctional centres? Why are we spending our money on SUVs rather than on children's care," Ramkissoon questioned.
The former university lecturer who holds postgraduate degrees in physical planning/geography, philosophy and theology, charged that it does not speak well about how the country cares for those who are vulnerable if children are allowed to remain in adult institutions in this, our 50th year of Independence.