The Minister of State in the Ministry of National Security, the Hon. Pearnel Charles Jr. has announced the Government’s flagship programme to rehabilitate youth offenders and high-risk young people in correctional institutions.
Speaking at a JIS Think Tank yesterday (March 15), Minister Charles said the ‘We Transform Youth Empowerment and Rehabilitation Programme’ is designed to equip young people in correctional care with the requisite skills, character, attitude and support, to become productive law-abiding citizens in order to reduce reoffending.
The programme will be implemented by the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) in all four juvenile centres across the island and will target children aged 12 to 17.
He informed that the programme has five pillars, which will be implemented in two phases.
The first three pillars will be rolled out in 2017 as a part of phase one.
These comprise the Application of the Learning by Doing Technique, which will engage the youth offenders in innovation training; the Mentorship and Internship/Job Placement initiative; and an annual competition and exposition, which showcases the youth’s talents and vocational skills.
The second phase, to be implemented in 2018, will include parent engagement and training, and staff capacity building.
Several activities will be undertaken this year under the first phase of the programme.
These include a media launch scheduled for June 22; a Competition/Exposition Day on July 28; a Mentorship Day for boys and girls on November 4 and 25, respectively; and partnership in the staging of ‘Jamaica 55’ celebrations
“The programme is structured the way it is because all of these rehabilitation activities are geared towards not just skills training but also the development of life skills, to create better citizens who can make better decisions during their incarceration and when they are released,” Mr. Charles said.
He informed that the Government will be partnering with external stakeholders, such as the church, private sector and other interest groups, to strengthen the institutional capacity of the DCS to effectively re-socialise youth offenders and high-risk young people.
“We want to ensure that there is purposeful rehabilitation for their successful reintegration into society,” he said.
Article by: Peta Gay Rowe
Photo from: www.jis.gov.jm