Modern classrooms for wards of the State in St. Andrew

Minister of State in the Ministry of National Security Rudyard Spencer (centre), examines a design for new state-of-the-art classrooms at the South Camp Juvenile Correctional and Remand Centre, in St. Andrew. With the state minister are (from left): Organization of American States (OAS) Representative in Jamaica, Jeanelle Van Glaanenweygel; and Commissioner of Corrections, Lieutenant Colonel (Retired) Gary Rowe. (Photo:Michael Sloley, JIS)

With three state-of-the-art classrooms and other facilities set to come into operation at the South Camp Juvenile Correctional and Remand Centre in St. Andrew, officials say wards will further excel in their educational pursuit.

The new additions will be accommodated in a multipurpose centre, to be completed by the end of the year. The centre will also have an information and communications technology (ICT) room, and a section for the teaching of cosmetology, geared at making the wards marketable when they leave the institution.

Superintendent at the centre, Maulette White, told JIS News that the girls have been doing exceptionally well in their Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) examinations, with 100 per cent passes in several subjects, and the new facilities will benefit them.

“I am most excited for the students and the teachers who will benefit,” she said at the recent ground-breaking ceremony.    

Financing for the centre is being provided by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), as part of the project, ‘A New Path: Promoting a Healthy Environment and Productive Alternatives for Juvenile Remandees and Offenders in Jamaica’, implemented by the General Secretariat of the Organization of American States, through its Department of Public Security, working with its affiliate, The Trust for the Americas.

Meanwhile, State Minister in the Ministry of National Security Rudyard Spencer, lauds the facility and the “life changing” experiences that will be provided for the young girls, as the Government and its partners are “ensuring that the best practices and international standards are adhered to in this modern design”.

He also informed that reports out of the Department of Correctional Services (DCS), indicate that incidents of conflict have been reduced inside the Centre, due to the environment becoming more conducive to the development of offenders under the rehabilitation programmes.

“Preliminary data show that during 2015 and 2016, only 33 of the 713 young people who were released from two juvenile facilities have returned to the same or a different correctional facility,” the state minister explained.  

Commissioner of Corrections, Lieutenant Colonel (Retired) Gary Rowe, says the new building will offer opportunities to “our teachers to operate and our wards to be in a comfortable space, and to get the messages that will lead to individual transformation”.

For his part, Deputy Chief of Mission for USAID in Jamaica, John McIntyre, says the purpose of the centre is to transform young people who end up on the wrong side of the law, and to enable them to become “respectable citizens”. He adds that the ultimate goal of the project is “full education” for the youth who pass through the correctional facility, so that they are “empowered to lead a productive life, and can contribute to their country in meaningful ways”.