About a year ago, I was working with 18 Degrees North on a piece about children in state care in Jamaica. Specifically, children who faced some personal challenges and as a result, were remanded to custody. Through some diligent research, I located one young woman who was sent to Fort Augusta, the adult female prison, for running away from home. Her crime? She had run away from home and was labelled “uncontrollable.” She was 16 and was housed with adult prisoners, including murderers, fraudsters and drug dealers.
The government has since promised that this legislation (which allowed judges to gain control of these youth who had committed various offenses, ranging from truancy to sexual activity to violent crimes, and put them in custody) would be taken off the books. I have not had a chance to get an update as to whether or not this is the case. There was also no word of this issue in Minister Lisa Hanna’s contribution to the government’s 2014/15 ‘sectoral debate’, however, according to Minister of Youth and Culture Hanna’s speech, the government has made great strides when it comes to children in state care. Take a read of her contribution at the link above. And watch my piece (link below), it is an eye-opening look at youth who are simply being children, as one of the contributors in the story put it, are treated in Jamaica. (You have to go to the second clip of the episode.)