Mon | Aug 15, 2022

Making at-risk youth informers not a good idea

Published:Tuesday | May 17, 2022 | 12:05 AM


I was in total shock and disbelief when I read the article ‘Enlist more youth to be informers’, published in The Gleaner on May 9.

They are at-risk youths between the ages of 15 and 24. Their age range is from childhood to youth, and they are not convicted criminals.

The government in the United States, through the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency, supports its at-risk youth. They give millions of dollars in programmes to help them, for example, mentoring for preventing and reducing delinquency and gun violence and youth programmes. They don’t treat these youth like convicted criminals or work out plea deals with them. Or “enrol more at-risk youth as informers” and put them at more risk.

At-risk youth should never be enrolled in law enforcement as informers or to assist them with information to help them to eliminate illegal guns and ammunition at our ports.

Jamaican authorities and the New York Times estimated that 200 illegal guns are “smuggled into the country each month from the United States”.

Also, Jamaican authorities should ask American officials to launch an investigation into some of the weapons they seize in raids, during traffic stops, or at the ports. Of the nearly 1,500 weapons that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives checked from 2016 to 2018, seventy-one per cent came from the United States.

The illegal gun trade continues, and it does not seem that the US is doing anything to help Jamaica to put a stop to it.

However, the solution cannot be to ask at-risk youth to be police informers and to be vulnerable to more risks.