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The Metcalfe Street, Secure Juvenile Centre, will be pioneering Jamaica's changing approach to juvenile justice with the contribution of US$350,000 for a project which will assist in the centre providing a range of services including medical and mental health screening, education and skills training, life skills and behavior modification programme as well as sports and recreational activities.
The project had a media launch where agreements were signed between donors USAID and UNDP as well as between UNDP and the Department of Corrections. During the launch UN Resident Coordinator and Resident Representative, UNDP, Dr. Arun Kashyap expressed confidence that with the success of the project Jamaica would catalyze smooth reintegration of child remandees into society and minimize, if not eliminate recidivism.
"We believe that youth violence is preventable by addressing the causes and building the capabilities and changing attitudes of young remandees" said Dr. Kashyap. This he said could be achieved through individuals' strengthened skills and competencies, improved chances to access and complete secondary education, job and life skills training, as well as apprenticeships.
The programme is made possible by the Grant provided by USAID and administered by UNDP. In her remarks, Mission Director for the USAID in Jamaica, Denise Herbol, described the project as "just the start of the USAID's efforts to support the Government of Jamaica's reform agenda for the juvenile justice system." Ms. Herbol welcomed the partnership with UNDP which she said "...underscores the international partners' commitment to work directly with the Ministry (of National Security) to achieve its goals of ensuring public safety and the rights and wellbeing of youth, who find themselves in conflict with the law."
Acting Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of National Security, Ms. Dianne McIntosh said the Metcalfe Street Centre represented both hope and promise. She said it promised a greater level of care and protection while offering hope for the life of the youth to be redirected enabling them to make the right choices on their return to their families and communities.
To address the need to separate children from adults and to provide sufficient spaces for children who are remanded awaiting trial, the decision was taken to convert the former Metcalfe Street Adult Remand Centre into a remand facility for boys. The Metcalfe Street Secure Juvenile Centre was officially opened on 1 June 2011, and has been occupied since May 27, 2011 with 48 children transferred from the St. Andrew Remand Centre for Boys and approximately 20 from police lockups. The facility is able to accommodate two hundred and eight (208) children.
The project focuses on one of the most problematic aspects of Jamaica's national security and justice systems - children on remand, the majority of whom are male. With the establishment of the Metcalfe Street Secure Juvenile Centre (for boys), the intention is that the State will be able to provide a healthy, safe, secure and caring environment for boys prior to the resolution of their court cases.
The support to equipping and staffing the Centre enables a focus on rehabilitation in order to counteract the likelihood of remandees being drawn into a vicious cycle of poverty, violence and exclusion. The results are expected to demonstrate the positive impacts that can be gained from emphasising rehabilitation, and meet the objective of improving the capacity of the Department of Correctional Services to provide a safe, secure and caring environment at the Metcalfe Street Secure Juvenile Centre. The project is expected to contribute significantly to ensuring an environment that is conducive to the smooth reintegration of child remandees into society and which promotes the rights of the child.
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