The lack of a proper facility to house juvenile offenders is putting a strain on Magistrates in Grenada.
Chief Magistrate, Her Honour Tamara Gill was put at pains last week Friday when four juvenile offenders appeared before her court for offences committed and not knowing where she can place them for rehabilitation purposes.
The Chief Magistrate pondered on what to do with the young offenders in the presence of Officers from the Child Protection Authority, and the Ministry of Social Development who were in court trying to assist with the process.
Court Reporters recently became aware of how hard-pressed it is for Magistrates to “make the right decision” in handing down a sentence on young offenders.
The Magistrates at times receive a barrage of criticisms and condemnation from sectors of the society when they commit young offenders to the Richmond Hill Prisons due to the lack of an alternative facility intended for them.
Although the much-talked about Bacolet Juvenile Rehabilitation Centre is scheduled to be opened sometime later in the month, the facility might not be able to immediately accommodate young offenders.
A source close to the facility told THE NEW TODAY newspaper that the scheduled February 25 date for the commissioning of the centre might be further delayed.
The source said it is anticipated that the opening of the centre could even go beyond the first quarter of the year.
Director of Juvenile Justice at the Ministry of Social Development, Dowlin Bartholomew informed the court that even if the opening of the facility goes on as scheduled, he does not believe that it will be in a position to accept offenders at that point as all the operational administrative structures are not yet in place.
Bartholomew who was seconded from the Royal Grenada Police Force (RGPF) to the Ministry of Social Development said while there is need to protect society from the young offenders, parents need to step up to the plate and accept their responsibility of protecting their children.
The Bacolet Rehabilitation Centre which is built to house about 75 Residents is intended to be used as an alternative to sending young offenders to Her Majesty’s Prisons at Richmond Hill, St. George’s among seasoned criminals.
The centre will operate in the St. Andrew South-east constituency of Youth and Sports Minister, Emmalin Pierre who could not be reached for comment on the status of the facility.