Monday, November 23, 2020 — Ten organisations across the OECS were awarded grants by the OECS/USAID Juvenile Justice Reform Project II (JJRP II) at a virtual award ceremony on October 29, 2020.
Under the theme “Chance4Change” these organizations will implement programmes that provide opportunities for youth in the justice system to be diverted from prosecution or custody and into alternative justice programmes, enabling the youth to change negative behaviours and equip them with a range of useful skills. Some programmes will also allow youth in custodial facilities to benefit from rehabilitation activities that address their educational and psychosocial needs.
Through these programmes, JJRP II supports countries in the OECS to provide youth in conflict with the law with access to diversion or alternative sentencing and effective rehabilitation and reintegration support. Studies of youth in the justice system have shown that the use of diversion or alternative sentencing reduces the likelihood of youth reoffending and substantially increases their chances of completing secondary education. Through the grant awards, over 150 youth in the Eastern Caribbean will benefit from support over the next three months. The initiatives will allow youth to benefit from training and/or guidance in a number of areas such as life skills, mentoring, job or work skills, counselling and entrepreneurship. Partners have also begun working on arrangements to have these initiatives continue to provide support to youth in the justice system, beyond JJRP II funding.
The 10 programmes/organisations from across the OECS include:
1.Rehabilitation Alternative Approaches for Children (REAACH) is a Rehabilitation option in Antigua and Barbuda providing rehabilitation programs for residents at the Antigua Boys Training School.
2. Diverting individuals via Education and Support (DIVES) provides programs In Antigua and Barbuda to help children with behavioural challenges from 12 to 18 years who are not in a facility.
3. A Woodcraft Skills Training Development Programme for inmates in the Commonwealth of Dominica to gain a new skill and build renewed confidence, developed, and implemented by the Police Force.
4. The KEYS- Keeping Every Young Person Sharp, music programme in Grenada will enable residents of the Grand Bacolet Juvenile Rehabilitation & Treatment Centre to learn a musical instrument.
5. Spice’s Arts Therapy Programme This Arts programme in Grenada will provide the opportunity for children to express creativity and individuality of thoughts and feelings through dance and drama.
6. A Carpentry and Mulching programme developed by ALCAS – Advancing Local Communities Avoiding Societal ills in St. Kitts and Nevis, to enable at-risk youth to develop skills in wood chipping and mulching.
7. The Explorers Club, in St. Kitts and Nevis is a community policing effort executed by a cadre of police officers and other volunteers, focusing on crime prevention programmes and initiatives.
8. The Volunteer Corps – from the Department of Youth Empowerment in St. Kitts and Nevis progresses the youth mainstreaming agenda – providing volunteer service opportunities for children at risk.
9. The Youth Recidivism Reduction Programme in Saint Lucia is designed to reduce recidivism and empower youth positively, through increased access to rehabilitative services.
10. The Family Empowerment Programme (FEP) in St. Vincent and the Grenadines will support children in the areas of Behaviour & Attitude Modification, Social Crime Diversion, prevention, and rehabilitative activities through a series of interventions.
Mr. Clinton White, Regional Representative for USAID Mission to the Eastern and Southern Caribbean expressed enthusiasm about the various interventions and stated that “These 10 programmes [are] a welcome step to improve the lives of children in the justice system, support the diversion of youth away from prosecution or custody and provide rehabilitation that addresses the underlying causes of delinquent behavior…these initiatives will empower youth and guide them on a path of self-improvement, and I extend my best wishes for successful implementation.”