New hope for teen offenders

| 09/12/2010

(CNS): The minister of community affairs says that the whole approach to how the country deals with young offenders is going to change but there are challenges when it comes to sending them overseas to boot or survival camps and other rehabilitation centres because of immigration problems. In the wake of a conditional discharge given to a teen last week on a gun offence, because of the limited options under a rehabilitation order, Mike Adam said he was working towards finding ways of sending teens to a specialist centre in Missouri. Last Friday a sixteen year old, boy convicted of possession of an unlicensed firearm was discharged by the court on the condition that he attendsa rehab unit in the United States.

Justice Smith had wanted to make a rehabilitation order for the teen offender to go to the Second Nature Wilderness programme in Georgia, a specialist treatment centre for youngsters with drug and behavioural problems, and then on to a boarding school as his sentence for the crime under the youth justice law. However, as only Tranquillity Bay in Jamaica which is now closed, the Francis Bodden Home, a girl’s institution and the Bonaventure Boys Home are gazetted in the law for rehabilitation orders the judge chose a different approach.

Giving the young person a conditional discharge means he avoided the problem of a criminal record which stands in the way of youngster being sent to the United States on rehabilitation orders. The judge made the teen’s attendance at the centre, which his parents are voluntarily paying for, a condition of his discharge while at the same time placing him under the supervision of a social worker to ensure compliance.

The issue of being able to send youngsters with a criminal conviction against them overseas however, presents problems Adam explained but said his ministry is working to try and find a way to send youngsters to the Missouri Youth Services Institute (MYSI) — the centre which Cayman’s own young offenders institute will be based on when it is finished.

“We are making further enquiries to determine if we can make this a reality,” he said adding that Cayman would soon have its own purpose built facility.

He said the law needs to be changed with regard to the institutes that are gazetted but he also spoke about a new approach to dealing with young offenders at home. He said sending youngsters to Eagle House was not working and it was inappropriate for them to be housed alongside adult prisoners.

“We definitely want to move away from that kind of incarceration where we have been virtually warehousing young people,” Adam said.

Before Cayman’s own centre is finished Adam said that one of the properties at Bonaventure is going to be renovated and made into a secure unit, where the courts can send teens who have been convicted and where the model of therapeutic treatment adopted by the MYSI will be used before the purpose built centre is finished.

The Missouri approach moves away from a correctional punishment or containment to one of rehabilitation, treatment, and education through pier programmes and quality teaching. Adam said the model which Cayman will adopt has revolutionized the treatment of young offenders in Missouri and while there will be some adaption to meet Cayman’s needs once the facility is built and the specialist staff have been retained and existing staff trained, there will be new hope for the way young offenders in Cayman are treated.

“We are really excited about getting this new approach in place as it really is awesome,” Adman said, adding that when he visited the MYSI it was a true eye-opener as to what can be done with youngsters with the right programme. “You see hope in their faces.” He said the centre has had real and impressive success dealing with kids who had been gang members and committed serious crimes.

Adam said the facilities are not elaborate as the model is about the staff and the therapeutic approach which has revolutionized young offender rehabilitation. The centre has claimed a 93% success rate with the youngsters as only 7% reoffend within three years after their attendance. It also has a better educational achievement rate than the US school system with 91% of the young people earning high school credits compared to 46% nationally.

 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Category: Headline News

Comments (12)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Anonymous says:

     Big Question?  WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO THE THREE ACCOMPLICES IN THIS CASE?  When is their trial date?  Where are the others?  Can someone give a follow up.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Actually, I believe that sending criminal youth off Island, away from their friends and families for some time may be a better punishment than sending them to prison here. In Northward, chances are that they are  around some "familiar" faces and possibly get caught up (or continue to be caught up) with drugs etc.

    Sending them somewhere where nobody knows (or cares) where they came from and who they are may just be the humbling experience they need.

    If they remain on Island, they will be able to enjoy weekly visits from family and friends, probably manage to sneak cell phones and make nightly calls to their friends etc.

    So instead of maintaining them here, ship them off to some wilderness camp where they have to walk 25 miles every day, set up their own tent, cook their own food and do not have the luxury of AC, TV and other things.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Local gangsters know that underage youth will get a slap on the wrist for handgun possession so they will continue to be recruited to hold the guns for these criminals.

    In order for the young people to receive consideration for avoiding jail the youth need to show good faith by identifying those people for whom they were holding a firearm.

    Getting these youth away from the negative influences is a good thing.

  4. CaymanTimer says:

    This is a good article revealing many positive moves towards dealing with youthful offenders.

    Just one comment – do we have to continue PROMOTING and GLORIFYING this disgusting "jailhouse pants" fad that is becoming such a nasty blight on the streets and sometimes in the schools?  Do you realize what this mode of dress signifies in its native context?  It indicates (in a jail or prison setting) that the wearer is receptive to sexual advances!  As a former prison guard in the US, I have first-hand knowledge of this connotation.

    STOP IT!  We don’t need this being promoted and spread any further in Cayman.  Can we please use a more positive model in such an article which proposes solutions to a growing problem?

  5. West Bayer says:

    What they need is Community Centers at every district in Cayman!!!

    Unlike the rich people dat can stay home and shuffle their kids back and forth to after school activites that cost hundreds, we REGULAR Caymanians don’t have dat luxury!

    These children can’t go swimming cuz the beach access are all blocked to foreigners for condos. They can’t climb trees cuz they all cut down. They can’t ride bikes cuz they gunna get knockdown. They can’t get computer access cuz it cost an arm and a leg to maintain. They can’t get a part time job cuz they all taking by overseas cheap labour. They don’t have anyone at home after school cuz their parents have to be out hustling for a dolla. And on and on it goes….

    THE KIDS ARE GOING CRAZY WITH BOREDOM!!

    No wonder the teenagers are becoming the go-to person for the big drug lord cowards out there, cuz they know the kids don’t get punished because they are teenagers and them dealers know that these kids don’t have no money and need essentials that mama can’t afford on her own because dead beat dad is out there w/out a care in the world!.  And oh, most importantly also, these kids know the lyrics real well to alot of these "bad man" songs PLAYED ON THE LOCAL RADIOS and worst yet they practice all day on their gun aiming because they are addicted to these war fear video games!! 

    Government need to invest in our youth! WE NEED COMMUNITY CENTERS THAT OFFER MORE THAN A BASKETBALL COURT…WE NEED SWIMMING POOLS, RECREATION HALLS, DANCE STUDIOS, COMPUTER ROOMS, TUTORS, FISHING CLUBS, DRAMA CLUBS, ARTS AND CRAFTS…..ETC…

    Stop worrying about the docks and worry about dat child out deh, dat just might grow up to kill you or your loved ones!!!

    MAKE THE BIG SHOTS WHO ARE MAKING MILLIONS DOWN HERE START HAVING TO DONATE 10% OF THEIR SALARY BACK TO HELPING TO CREATE AND MAINTAIN CAYMAN YOUTH CENTERS.

    GOVERNMENT NEEDS TO MAN UP AND START THINKING ABOUT THE FUTURE OF OUR CHILDREN.  JUST BECAUSE THEIR CHILDREN LIVING THE GOOD LIFE OFF OUR VOTES DON’T MEAN DAT THEY DON’T HAVE AN OBLIGATION TO OUR CHILDREN WHO HAVE NOTHING!!

    If no action is taken now – I fear what 20 years ahead will be like!!!

    Oh and another thing – ask Britain if they need anyman power in Iraq to fight the war and then send these so called "bad man" gun men over deh as part of their sentence ..betcha den they’ll get up off the behinds and get real jobs!!

    • Anonymous says:

      Please do not suggest polluting the great british army with caymanian criminals. 

  6. Anonymous says:

    Conditional discharge for possession of a loaded handgun.  Disgraceful and and a green light to all juveniles to start packing guns on this island.  Beware this is the beginning of the slippery slope.

  7. Recently Enlightened says:

    We need to come up with a hope for our children before they offend!

  8. Anonymous says:

    I am happy there is some hope for our youth as we are loosing them too fast to crime, drugs and gangs. Mr Adams please ensure that our youth get the proper treatment. On the other hand will our shallow minded community forget and forgive these youths that committ crime and give them a chance to live and be adults in our community once they have finished their time allow them to work and mature. We need to take care and show them love, be there for the youths, as sometimes their actions is for attention,love & parenting with cayman becoming so expensive it’s hard and some parents has 2 or 3 jobs to pay the bills and keep food in the house and the children is lacking the parents being there and this is mostly from broken homes where one of the parents is not playing their role in their child’s life and in the end the childs suffers for this action. I feel when parents neglect their child/children the law should insist the take proper care of their child and if not they be punished for their actions. NO CHILD ASK TO BE BORN.

  9. Anonymous says:

    I think boot camps are fine for kids at the fringe stages of criminal activity but like prison they can be used as an educational tool for young offenders both positive and negative.  And some of these kids here have been coached and used by adults {older criminals} to take the rap for criminal activity so as to avoid prosecution themselves{the older criminals} if they were caught doing the same thing.There are lines that these young people cross where they have to be thought of as young adults. And the protection of the general public has to be the major concern. Survival camps is exactly as the name states, if one want to take a young adult with no criminal history and build on that character and integrity that has already been instilled then a vacation in a survival camp might be fine.

  10. Anonymous says:

    A ray of hope for the future. 

  11. Anonymous says:

    Whatever they do, i hope that it dont turn out to be a slap on the wrist or else those want to be gangsters that are coming up or going to feel more free to commit crime.