(ZIZ)– Stakeholders from St.Kitts and Nevis have been meeting this week at the Marriott Resort to look at new ways of dealing with teenagers who break the law.
The OECS and USAID have teamed up with the government of St.Kitts and Nevis to host the two day workshop to develop a National Juvenile Justice Strategy.
Representatives from government departments, the police and other stakeholders have been discussing new approaches to addressing juveniles who get in trouble with the law.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry Of Social Development in Nevis, Keith Glasgow, said this is part of an overall change in the juvenile justice system in the OECS.
“We are moving away from the old system where the emphasis is on incarceration and punishment, trying to move to a more rehabilitative process. Something that is more responsive. Something of course that would give juveniles a better chance to make a more worthwhile contribution to the development of the country,” he said.
He said this is a departure from how things are done now but he feels it is a necessary change.
“We feel that it is extremely expensive to have persons in prison. You have to feed them, you have to provide healthcare, and so on and so on. We feel that it is better if we try to get them to change whatever anti-social behaviour there is so that they can be back into society and they can make a more positive contribution towards the development of society”
Deputy Director of New Horizons Rehabilitation Centre Naeemah Hazelle said she’s happy for this type of discussion.
“What’s exciting for me about being in this meeting is the amount of like minded people that are in there doing the work,” she said. “I don’t think people understand how much work goes into working with young people and they are quick to criticize. But what I see in that room are a lot of people who are enthusiastic and passionate about all the different aspects of juvenile justice. From legislation to social work, to child protection”
After the meeting the representatives will put together an action plan to address barriers and other difficulties in developing a Juvenile Justice Strategy.
The group will then tailor a proposed document from a visiting consultant aimed at improving the juvenile justice system here.