Thu | Apr 9, 2020

‘I am going to kill myself’ - Child who committed no crime writes emotional plea to be released from correctional facility

Published:Sunday | December 8, 2019 | 12:41 AM

In a letter written by a child held in a correctional facility, the youngster has pleaded to be let out of bondage and threatened to do self-harm.

The child was deemed uncontrollable by a Family Court judge and has been locked away for months, and claims to have not been allowed regular visits from parents. According to the child, in the letter which The Sunday Gleaner has seen, life has been hell since being committed to the care of the Department of Correctional Services on the whim of a judge.

The child has written an impassioned plea for parents and other loved ones to be allowed to visit, and has vowed to commit suicide if freedom from bondage does not come soon.

“I’m going through some serious problems. I can’t stay here too long because I am going to have serious problems until it reach a place where I am going to kill myself because this is keeping me far from my family, especially my brother and my nieces and nephew. I really want to go home,” the letter states.

According to the letter, the child has been forced to endure the hardships of being denied basic freedoms even though no crime was committed, and The Sunday Gleaner understands that in one of the four facilities designated to lock away children, there are more than 30 who have been deemed uncontrollable by the courts.

BETTER PLACE

Children and their parents are often told by court staff that they will be going to ‘a better place’, only to realise that they have been committed to prison-like conditions despite not breaching the law.

“I really want to go home. I pray every night,” the child wrote.

Six years ago, the previous political administration made a solemn promise to amend the Child Care and Protection Act to bar a magistrate from deeming a child uncontrollable and locking them away for years in the corrections system.

However, the practice appears to have re-emerged with a vengeance after the present administration rejected a recommendation from human rights advocates that the law be amended. The advocates argue that sending children into the corrections system, despite them not breaking the law, is a breach of the United Nations International laws of human rights, to which Jamaica is a signatory.

karyl.walker@gleanerjm.com