Attorney-at-Law, Anselm Clouden has praised the Keith Mitchell-led government for the direction it was taking with respect to reform for troubled teens and hopes that every avenue is sought to foster their growth and development.
The lawyer was speaking in an exclusive interview with THE NEW TODAY newspaper last week Wednesday on plans to open the Grand Bacolet Rehabilitation Centre in August.
Minister of Economic Development, Oliver Joseph gave the date to
reporters at a recent post-Cabinet Press Briefing at the Ministerial Complex.
Joseph told the press conference that the ruling New National Party (NNP) administration has received assistance from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to help get the centre ready within the next three months.
He said that the US aid agency has provided all the furnishings and equipment for the centre and will facilitate the training of the workers.
Clouden who has been an advocate for a system that will serve to help fallen youth rather than punish them said the Government is moving in the right direction.
“For the past decade I have been calling for the implementation of a
centre for juveniles, not only a correctional facility but also a facility that will enhance their social and economic development so that it should be modeled against that background, not necessarily
only for purposes of accommodating them but as it says a rehabilitation centre”, he told THE NEW TODAY.
He advocated the need for a facility in which the inmates can get involved in a number of technical courses and not those focusing on academics.
“…It (the programme) should be more technically oriented where you have young people who need to engage in a trade because this is where we are heading in the future,” he said.
Clouden noted that the world in now into the computer age and as such courses should be held for inmates at the centre in computer engineering since this would be “an asset for wayward youth”.
“Courses in welding, courses in metal work and woodwork, courses in mechanics, that sort of orientation would be absolutely necessary (at the centre”, he remarked.,
“…Courses in Agriculture and Agricultural Science, in Marine Sciences such as Fisheries and teaching them how to fish and the different techniques in fishing because this is one of our exploited frontier, not much exploited, they need to train more fishermen in areas of navigation and all of the incidences derived in a livelihood from the ocean, so that is the thrust that the rehabilitation centre should engage in,” he said.
According to Clouden, this is the kind of endeavour to be undertaken with young offenders as alternative to sending them to the Richmond Hill prison.
“It (should) not be young offenders going up to Her Majesty’s Prison to be really criminalise because there, is no match for a 12 year old boy, a 14 year old boy at Her Majesty’s Prison – well they are coming out to be hardened criminals”, he said.
“…A Rehabilitative Centre is not designed to mix young offenders,
juveniles with adult offenders, it is geared for Juveniles,” he added.
Apart from establishing the rehab centre, Clouden also suggested that a Juvenile court should be set up on the island since it would help alleviate some of the problems young people find themselves in with the law.
“Where families come to court with their children, those who have fallen off the cliff…you not sitting and going in a witness box, the family, the Judge or the Magistrate sit around a table with a social worker, with the teacher and discuss ways and means of helping this youth develop in a certain direction rather than always think of punishment and being punitive.
“…Look at family home, look at the home environment, see what’s the cause of this youth turning away from certain norms and morals, in that context the Centre can be a tremendous assistance to the Juveniles.
According to Clouden if this alternative approach is taken then Juveniles who come before such a court will not be given a criminal
record that can become a permanent stain on their lives.