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Juvenile Detention or Boys Training Centre?

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Editor: Please permit me space in your paper to share my views on an API presentation aired on Tuesday, March 10, on the renovation being done at the Liberty Lodge Boys Training Centre (LLBTC) in Green Hill.{{more}}

I find it strange, first of all, that the Ministry has reduced the number of buildings from five to one when there is an increase of juvenile delinquency (boys) which the court finds very difficult to handle. This is so because the available places for these juveniles to serve alternative sentences are limited; hence they are placed on curfew and bond. What the court is failing to realize is that these juveniles have come to realize that they would not be jailed, so even during curfew and bonds they continue to break the law.

Reducing the number of buildings to one, to cater for dormitory, storeroom, kitchen, skill development centre, administration etc cannot be an improvement, as pointed out by Mrs Burke of the Ministry of National Mobilization.

Secondly, what sort of facility has the dormitory on the ground floor and skill centre, administration and staff quarters on the top floor, of what I consider to be a small structure, compared to the challenges at hand with these boys. You would practically have to pass through the dormitory to get to the quarters above. That’s not wise thinking.

What is strange about the language spoken by Mrs Burke is the use of “block one and block two” in relation to the facility. Is it that the boy’s centre, which catered for homeless and neglected boys, will now be converted to a juvenile facility for young offenders? Then, if that is the case, say so and stop trying to have the public believe that the renovated quarters will be for the present set of boys at the Dauphine Community Centre.

Again, the buildings before catered for different aspects of the boys’ development. It is true that they are old, as they have been around for some time, but the intended occupants are not chickens in a coop. The buildings provided for the development of the boys in farming, academic classes, skills – woodwork, music, IT, dormitory, kitchen and dining and general assembly. Could this one renovated structure serve the purpose?

Mrs Burke further stated that what she was showing was the empty structure, which should become fully operational in a few months. Wasn’t this the same structure which was to be completed in 2014, and wasn’t this structure supposed to be twice the size, with appropriate fencing of the compound?

Someone needs to come clean on this matter, as the ministry keeps mixing boys’ training centre with juvenile centre in their releases.

Finally, how would the present staff be accommodated and when would the residents of Dauphine and Belair regain the use of their community centre? Too often the public is fed information from the ministries which is ambiguous and intended to make the Minister and the Government look good. These social issues which we face are not “look good” and “sound good” issues, like the paperwork of all those who would have completed their university studies, placed in the Mobilization Ministry, only to talk and walk like proud peacocks.

Let it be known that the seven acres or so of lands housing the LLBTC has been underutilized for years. Governments, past and present, have failed in their plans to put practical and sustainable activities in place, even though they have the land resource. Agriculture has been attempted with much success in the past, through pig, rabbit and poultry rearing, along with vegetables. Its sustainability, however, has always been in question.

The same land space should have housed a proposed home for girls and an improved home for boys, but it seems now that a juvenile detention centre is on stream.

The time has come for the youth minister to implement meaningfully the plans which have been drawn up over the years to deal with youth at risk and those who would have gotten themselves involved with law breaking. The seven acres are available to have meaningful programmes done, rather than having new faces coming on every five years wanting to do their own thing to thump their chest. In the meantime, our youths are being destroyed and their future is being hampered, while we continue to play the political game.

Youth Mentor

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