New Horizons for Juvenile Justice Reform in St. Kitts and Nevis

SKNIS Photo: Minister of Social and Community Development Honourable Marcella Liburd

Basseterre, St. Kitts, March 15, 2013 (SKNIS): Plans to reform the Juvenile Justice System in St. Kitts and Nevis moved forward with the opening of the New Horizon Rehabilitation Centre on Wednesday (March 13).

The main facility is a two-storey building that can house 30 juveniles, 20 males and 10 females. It features classrooms, recreation room, a computer room/library, medical room, kitchen and dining area, laundry room, offices, 2 workshop areas and more. The size is listed at 11,760 square feet. There is also a 2,400 square foot remand centre for juveniles awaiting trial. It has 10 individual holding units, a dining area, showers, office and supervisor’s quarters.

At a ceremony to mark the occasion, Honourable Marcella Liburd the Minister responsible for Social and Community Development, highlighted the significance of the new facility.

“This beautiful building standing before us today is one in a series of many steps made toward enhancing the capacity of the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis, to improve the status and well-being of our children by supporting programmes of early detection of deviant or antisocial behaviour and providing creative remedies for behavioural difficulties including the provision of rehabilitative care for those who become in conflict with the law, as opposed to focusing on punitive measures,” Minister Liburd stated.

She described the opening as “a defining moment” for policy makers, social workers, law enforcement, families and communities across the twin-island Federation.

“… We all have to become advocates of young people and commit to reshaping a positive future for our children who run afoul of the law,” expressed Minister Liburd. “Hence, today signals not the end but the continuation of this journey.”

To ensure the interventions are successful a number of strategies were outlined. The first dubbed “Effective Coordination” calls for a collaborative approach by all related stakeholders, civil society as well as regional and international partners to support the reintegration of juveniles into society without stigma or discrimination while continuing the task of systematic reforms to the justice programmes.

Compassion was also highlighted. While acknowledging the pain felt by victims of crimes and by the populace on a whole, Minister Liburd urged that”we all have to commit to showing compassion and to invest in second chance opportunities” for young people. Thirdly, it was outlined that the treatment plan at the New Horizon Rehabilitation Centre must be tailored for the needs of the at-risk youth. “The enabling environment must feature strategies that rehabilitate the residents and prepare them for the world of work and life in general,” noted the minister.

Finally, the minister emphasized the role of the family. “A nurturing and supportive family is the most important ingredient in the process. … At the core of our ministries activities is our mantra ‘Stronger Families, Safer Communities.’ I urge the staff of this ministry to keep this mantra in the forefront of every activity undertaken,” she stressed.

Minister Liburd concluded by expressing appreciation to the Caribbean Development Bank, United States Agency for International Development and the OECS Juvenile Justice Reform Project for the “solid support” of this project.

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