Building on the first Juvenile Justice Reform Project, the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), through the Juvenile Justice Reform Project Phase 2 targets youth aged 18 and under who are in conflict with the law; that is those who have committed offences for which they could be prosecuted under the existing legislative framework in Countries including Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, St. Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Grenada.
Therefore, in an effort to demonstrate their commitment to the cause, the OECS, the USAID and the Government of Grenada signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Tuesday at the Ministry of Infrastructure Development Conference Room.
Addressing members of the Media, Director General of the OECS Commission, Dr. Didacus Jules underscored the importance of prevention in the Juvenile Justice Reform Project.
He said: “Sometimes we measure things by what they’ve achieved; but there are instances also where we need to assess things not only by what they’ve achieved, but by what they have avoided.
And I think our engagement in this sector with USAID with the JJRP is a classical example of this. Because it is not just about finding alternative ways of dealing with youth in conflict with the law, but doing that in a way that ensures that they do not fall back into a cycle of crime, punishment and recidivism that results in a deepening cycle of crime and criminality”.
Principal Officer of the United States Embassy Grenada, Mr. Stephen Frahm speaks of the importance of reform, as opposed to punishment for youth in conflict with the law.
“Experience has shown that punishment alone does not change offending
behavior; in fact, it sometimes reinforces it.
The work required to make reform efforts successful is difficult and requires the efforts of many partners working together” Frahm said.
Minister for Social Development, Housing & Community Empowerment, Honourable Delma Thomas says the rehabilitation and reintegration of youth into society will require all hands on deck.
“We look forward to support that will provide through phase 2 in particular, the development of programmes for juveniles and strengthening of staff capacity to work with children in conflict with the law.
We waited long for this occasion as it demonstrates the commitment of all of us to work in the best interest of our children” according to Minister Thomas.
This program will continue to introduce and implement a number of reform measures which will result in more modernized systems of youth justice in the Caribbean region and will involve continued specialized training for practitioners and policy makers, the updating of laws, regulations, policies and protocols for the treatment of youth in-conflict with the law.