JFJ Press Release: JFJ Has Questions and Concerns about the $60 Million Rehabilitative and Therapeutic Facility being Proposed by the Ministry of Youth and Culture

JFJ Has Questions and Concerns about the $60 Million Rehabilitative and Therapeutic Facility being Proposed by the Ministry of Youth and Culture

Wednesday, October 2, 2013, Kingston, Jamaica – Jamaicans for Justice (JFJ) has a number of questions and concerns about the rehabilitative and therapeutic facility being proposed by the Ministry of Youth and Culture for children who have been to date designated “uncontrollable” and placed in correctional and remand centres.

The lack of details and specifics available give rise to the following questions:

  • Is this to be one central facility?
  • Where is it to be located?
  • What is the planned capacity?
  • Is it to be for both girls and boys?
  • By what route/mechanism will children be assigned to the facility?
  • What is the proposed staffing for the facility?
  • What assessment of children will be done before they are assigned to the facility?
  • How long will children be kept at the facility? Is it a short, medium, long term facility?
  • What is the proposed timeline for the start of building of the facility? For its opening?
  • With the funds having been assigned for the building cost, could the plans be made available to the public?

JFJ is concerned that once again a large sum of money has been assigned for development of a facility for children in conflict with the law without a detailed overall plan being made public, which shows how this facility clearly fits. Similar concerns have been raised by JFJ, which have not been satisfactorily answered, about the renovations at the South Camp Road Correctional facility and the renovations at five police stations.

As shared at the recent meeting at the Ministry of Youth, JFJ believes that one central therapeutic and rehabilitative facility would not be in the best interests of the children needing this type of care. It is best practice that children be kept near to their families and communities while this treatment is being delivered, and this would be better accomplished by a number of smaller facilities – possibly one in each county, to start with.

Also, JFJ remains gravely concerned that to date there is still no in-patient, adolescent psychiatric facility to provided critical care for children. The designated space for such a ward to be built at the University Hospital exists, the ward could be built at a current cost of $40 million and the cost of staffing would be provided by the University of West Indies. Yet successive governments, including this one, continue to ignore the need for this much needed unit for the provision of critical mental health care for some of our children.

We are calling on the Minister of Youth to make public the specific details about this proposed facility and the overall plan into which it fits, before going ahead with another large expenditure of funds.