Youth and Culture Minister Lisa Hanna says suitable areas to operate therapeutic facilities are to be identified to assist children in state care with behavioural problems.
Hanna says the therapeutic facilities were among matters discussed at Cabinet’s three-day special meeting on the weekend. She was speaking to The Gleaner/ Power 106 News Centre following a tour of the Horizon Remand Centre and the Fort Augusta Correctional facility in Kingston and St Catherine today with a team of psychiatric and childcare experts.
Minister Hanna, who says a frank discussion was held with girls at both adult facilities today, says many of the children are suffering from post-traumatic stress. She says many of them have been sexually abused and have experienced other traumatic circumstances.
She rejected notions that conditions at the adult facilities may have contributed to the recent suicide attempts of children in state care.
Minister Hanna’s first year in office has been replete with criticisms from lobby groups, youth advocates, the Opposition and the public, who say she has not done enough to ensure children are not housed in adult correctional facilities. Criticism grew stronger following the suicide of Vanessa Wint in November, a teenager who was being housed at the Horizon Remand Centre. There were also several other cases of attempted suicide of children in adult facilities.
Among the team of experts on today’s visit to the adult facilities with the minister were psychiatrist and president of the Medical Association of Jamaica, Dr Aggrey Irons; chief executive officer of the Child Development Agency (CDA), Carla Francis Edie; and Commissioner of Corrections, Lt. Col. Sean Prendergast.