Minister of Youth and Culture, Hon. Lisa Hanna, has informed that land has been identified for the construction of a Best Practice Correctional and Remand Facility for Girls.
Miss Hanna made the disclosure at a press conference, held at the Office of the Prime Minister on December 18, to provide an update on plans to improve conditions for children in conflict with the law.
The Minister informed that in the interim, the South Camp Road Rehabilitation Centre is being upgraded with improved facilities to house girls now accommodated at Fort Augusta Prison, in separate facilities from adults. “Discussions are underway with international organisations to provide additional funding,” she said.
Ms. Hanna argued that sufficient physical correctional and remand facilities do not exist to properly accommodate the large number of children who are now coming into the system.
“That is why legal provisions have been promulgated and gazetted for juvenile facilities to exist inside some Correctional and Remand Centres intended for adults, such as at Horizon and Fort Augusta. The problem will not be solved entirely by building more facilities for juveniles. If we don’t deal with the root causes we will never be able to build institutions fast enough,” she stressed.
Meanwhile, Ms. Hanna noted that the Rio Cobre Correctional Facility for boys is to be upgraded, and that estimates have been completed and discussions are taking place with the Secretariat of the Jamaica Emergency Employment Programme (JEEP) to undertake the rehabilitation.
“The JEEP Secretariat is now completing estimates for self-contained facilities as Best Practice Police Holding Centres designated for children to be built at selected police stations, with the ideal objective being to have one per parish, so that children in lockups will be accommodated separately from adults,” she said.
On another matter, the Youth Minister noted that the Child Development Agency (CDA) is continuing to monitor the situation of children in lockups and to advocate that this provision of the Child Care and Protection Act is observed.
“Police personnel islandwide are being sensitised to the fact that children can be taken before any Resident Magistrate when the Children Court is not in session. The Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) advises that this has been included in the Jamaica Constabulary Force Orders and is to be the subject of seminars within the force,” she said.
As at August 13, 2012 there were 452 children in juvenile remand and correctional centres, while there were 5,226 children in State care as at September 30, 2012.