Technical Specialist with the OECS/USAID Juvenile Justice Reform Project, Gloria Augustus has said the establishment of a juvenile facility is a great need in Dominica.
She was delivering remarks at a three-day workshop for Police and Prison officers on Juvenile Justice Reform held at the Police Training School in Morne Bruce on Monday.
According to Augustus at present, there is no detention facility for juveniles in Dominica.
“In Dominica, we have no detention facility for juveniles,” she said. “CHANCES is not a detention facility as some people think, the place in Jimmit, OYQ [Operation Youth Quake] is not a detention facility.”
Augustus noted that juveniles who have to go through the court system are taken from adult courts.
She stated it now means that “we build small rehabilitative facilities for boys and girls.”
“We improve architecture, so if we have them there for a while, we have to ensure that we follow them after and also we have re-entry programs when they get back into the communities,” she stated. “It means engaging and educating youth.”
Augustus noted that throughout the OECS, when it comes to juveniles, Magistrates have few sentencing options, or even intervention, where the needs of the community, the victim and perpetrators are discussed and dealt with the hope of eventually having juveniles go back into the community.
“Some of the reports that we get in the islands in terms of the report on the child is wanting, in that not much information is given on the child’s background, social, economic and mental situation which could provide useful information in guiding what is required to help in the rehabilitation of that child,” Augustus stated.
She said a person’s criminal record or “what you do as a young person” can affect life chances.
“Even when the matter goes to court, is prison the best option?” she remarked, referring to juvenile cases. “Because we don’t have a facility sometimes we have to send them to the prison, and if there are facilities, what happens there? Do we only feed them there? What programs can we do to help them, to rehabilitate them and to re-integrate them back into their communities when their time at the facility is over?”