New Child Diversion Act will help to keep children out of jails - Green
State Minister in the Ministry of Youth Floyd Green has said that the courts will have new options to deal with children who are deemed to be uncontrollable under the Child Care and Protection Act.
Green said that, under the Act, when a child is deemed to be uncontrollable the court has the power to order that the youngster be incarcerated.
However, he told his parliamentary colleagues during the debate on the Child Diversion Act in the House of Representatives on Tuesday that the proposed law would amend that provision, allowing the court to order other forms of remedies such as enrolling the child in a drug treatment or rehabilitation programme.
“This is another step towards the inevitable move we will make as a government to, once and for all, remove the power from a judge to incarcerate a child who is deemed uncontrollable.”
Green said that research has shown that the best interest of a child who violates the law might be to focus on rehabilitation rather than criminal sanctions.
“Criminalising our children is not the answer,” he said.
The law makes provision for the establishment of a Child Diversion Office which will monitor proceedings across the justice system and child diversion systems.
It will also create child diversion committees which will help to develop, approve and supervise child diversion programmes.
Green further said the law will allow judges and police personnel at the rank of a Constable to place a youngster in a child diversion programme instead of instituting criminal proceedings where the child has committed an offence.
“This bill makes criminal proceedings against a child a last resort.” Green said.
Debate on the bill was suspended on Tuesday with a view to passing the proposed statute at the next sitting of the Lower House.