It is pass time that there was a new facility for juvenile offenders in Barbados, and Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite is holding out hope that some movement will happen in that direction soon.
Addressing the 130th anniversary celebrations of the Government Industrial School today, the Brathwaite told a gathered audience that plans to have the new facility on the site of the Dodds, St. Philip facility were still very much on the cards.
“We are having some financial challenges as you know, but what we are doing is some repairs to some of the dormitories for the boys. We want to bring them on par with the outstanding facilities we have for the girls in St. Lucy and we are working assiduously to ensure that we can have a new facility at this institution in the very near future,” he said, adding that the process of finalising with the quantity surveyors to get an actual price on the development was happening.
“One of the areas that will change given what we have recommended to Cabinet and that is that we move the age of our young people up to 18 that will come to the Government Industrial School. That will mean that the way we do business here presently, that will change because we will have some older girls and boys in our care. So in constructing a new facility we need to be cognisant of that, but I can say to you that as soon as our resources allow us that one of the things we will have is a new facility on this compound,” he added.
The disclosure was welcomed by Principal Erwin Leacock who later stated: “Based on the projected plans of the new facility it would be a considerably large facility because we are not only talking about a facility that is going to deliver educational programmes and rehabilitated programmes, but it has to meet the modern standards for juveniles deprived of their liberty and those international standards are quite high. It has to be a very significant investment by Government and it also has to be very well planned. Even though the security must be an issue, it must reflect a home environment.”
The Attorney General also noted that the legislative framework of the institution was under review as Government sought to push the aspect of education and restitution rather than corporal punishment.
“Although we are 130 years we have not moved legislatively to bring what we do at this institution in line with modern international best practices. That is one area which the Principal and the Ministry have been working on to transform the legislative framework that governs the Government Industrial School,” he said.
He explained that over the last couple of years preference was given to a system that de-emphasised punishment, and emphasised responsibility, and the fact that the young men and women were being trained to re-enter society so they could make a meaningful contribution.
“We are very proud of the fact that with our emphasis on education many of our youngsters are leaving this institution with CXCs, some have gone onto the [Barbados] Community College, some have gone on to the University [of the West Indies]… We also recognise that not everyone will be academically inclined so we are teaching vocational studies so that we can offer everyone the chance to excel at whatever they are good at,” he said. (LB)