Proposals For Improved Juvenile Justice System

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The establishment of a Division for Juvenile Services is among a list recommendations put forward towards developing a reformed juvenile justice system for Barbados.

Principal of the Government Industrial School (GIS), Erwin Leacock, outlined a number of initiatives to improve the system on Thursday, as he delivered a presentation on the final day of the National Juvenile Justice Conference at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre.

???We need to bring together all the departments that work with juveniles under one umbrella to serve a common purpose,??? he stated. He also put forward a proposal for the Barbados Juvenile Services Information System, to improve the sharing of information between key agencies involved in the process, and to eliminate some of the challenges still being experienced.

???If somebody forgets to write on a warrant about a test the child should have and it goes unnoticed, the child has to spend extra time being incarcerated because of someone???s mistakes. We need to get better,??? he stressed.

The Principal at the GIS for the last 25 years also recommended the development of a common operational framework which would see protocols and systems being implemented to ensure the protection of personal information on children in the system.

However, while outlining a number of initiatives to improve conditions for those in the system, Mr. Leacock said consideration should also be given to starting a National Adolescent Crisis Intervention programme.

Such a programme, he explained, would be geared towards ???at risk??? adolescents between the ages of 11 and 18, who experienced problems in the home, school or community.

He further proposed that consideration be given to an emergency residential programme at a facility with about 40 beds to offer children a safe haven for no more than 10 days to allow time for resolutions to be reached within the home.?????As it stands under the present system the child is incarcerated because they have nowhere else to go,??? he lamented.

Mr. Leacock also suggested that a 24-hour hotline be established to provide parents and guardians with access to information; as well as a day treatment facility for those who do not necessarily need residential care, but need the benefits of a structured programme; and clinical services.

The latter, he explained, would target children with conditions such as dyslexia and conduct disorders.??Noting that Barbados had developed a culture of telling people what was wrong with them, Mr. Leacock stated that it was time for all involved to ???take ownership of the problem they created, and solve it???.

julia.rawlins-bentham@barbados.gov.bb

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