Tue | Dec 7, 2021

Gov’t to remove discretion of judges to place children in penal institutions

Published:Friday | April 23, 2021 | 9:52 AM
Minister of State, Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, Robert Morgan, addressing a Child Protection and Family Services Agency virtual quarterly press briefing on April 21, 2021 - Contributed photo.

Minister of State in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, Robert Morgan, says a Cabinet submission has been done to amend the Child Care and Protection Act to remove the discretion of judges to place children in penal institutions via correctional order without charge.

Morgan said that removing this discretion will protect children from unnecessary interface with the penal system.

“Not every child who goes before the courts is a criminal. Some of them are runaways, which is not a crime. Some of them are truants from school, which is not a crime. Some of them are engaging in certain physical behaviours with children, which is not a crime, depending on the circumstances,” he said.

Morgan was speaking at the Child Protection and Family Services Agency virtual quarterly press briefing on Wednesday.

He contended that appropriate psychosocial intervention can be sufficient in reforming these children rather than placing them in a facility with “hardened criminals”.

“The law currently allows a parent to bring a child before the court and tell the court that they are unable to control [the child]. In some cases, the court uses the discretion to say if you can’t control the child, we will send him to a place of safety or penal institution,” Morgan said.

“Very soon, we will remove that part of Section 24 that give judges this discretion,” he pointed out.

- JIS News

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