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Police stations to be retrofitted for juveniles

Published:Tuesday | May 28, 2013 | 12:00 AM
National Security Minister Peter Bunting (left) makes his point at an interministerial press conference yesterday. Listening is Minister of Youth and Culture Lisa Hanna. - Ricardo Makyn/Staff Photographer

Nedburn Thaffe, Gleaner Writer

Minister of Youth and Culture Lisa Hanna has announced that some $75 million has been set aside to retrofit a number of police stations across the country to house juveniles once they are taken into custody.

The money, which will go towards constructing the five out of a total of 14 stations, is expected to come from funds under the Jamaica Emergency Employment Programme (JEEP). The move is part of a list of recommendations put forward by the Interministerial Working Group on Children in Detention that was recently approved by Cabinet.

Hanna, who was addressing a press briefing at the Office of the Prime Minister yesterday, said the working group was still awaiting news from the police and the JEEP Secretariat on how much it would cost to cover the remaining nine police stations.

She was unable to provide a timeline on when the work would commence.

"What the retrofitting of the police station is about is to ensure that where children come into conflict with the law, particularly where they first interface with the police and if they have to be taken into custody, that they are not held with adults," Justice Minister Mark Golding explained.

"This particular aspect of what is being discussed is really focusing on the very entry into the system which is a very short period of time but is very important," he added.

make rms more accessible

National Security Minister Peter Bunting, who was also present for the briefing, said another measure being examined is to make resident magistrates more accessible to juveniles "so that even on weekends if a juvenile is taken into custody they wouldn't have to wait until the next formal sitting of the court, but some contact would be made so that even on the weekend they would be taken before them and have their case addressed."

Bunting also said that there were plans to ensure that parents of children who are detained are made to participate in "structured development programmes to help both themselves and their children work through that rehabilitation going forward".

He said the working group would be ensuring that the parenting commission be seriously involved in working alongside the Department of Correctional Services, the Ministry of Youth and Culture and other agencies to ensure that at the end of the day, parents are better able to deal with their children once they come out of the system.

The following are some of the main points of decisions of Cabinet following the recommendations from the Interministerial Working Group on Children in Detention.

1 The Office of the Children's Advocate is to be provided with an increased staff complement to enable it to regularly inspect, monitor and make recommendations regarding juveniles in correctional centres.

2 The Ministry of Health will work closely with the ministries of Youth and Culture; National Security; Justice; and Education in ensuring that the necessary medical resources are in place to respond adequately to the needs of children.

3 A pool of specialists, including psychiatrist and/or psychologist and behavioural management experts will be offered to the Department of Correctional Services, the Child Development Agency and the Office of the Children's Advocate to provide support to children in state care.

4 A standard assessment and care plan has been mandated to be completed for all children entering the juvenile justice system.

5 Parents of children who are detained will be required to participate in a structured development programme to ensure support for both children and parents/guardians.

6 The Ministry of Education will provide technical guidance and supervision for children in correctional and remand centres through host school attachments.

7 The Ministry of Youth and Culture, the Edna Manley College, the National Gallery and the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission are implementing an arts therapy and development programme in juvenile correctional facilities with the permission of the Department of Correctional Services.