KINGSTON, Jamaica – Jamaica is moving to remove the discretion of judges to place children in penal institutions through the correctional order without charge.
Minister of State in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, Robert Morgan, says a Cabinet submission has been done to amend Section 24 of the Child Care and Protection Act and that removing this discretion will protect children from unnecessary interface with the penal system.
“Not every child who goes before the courts is a criminal. Some of them are runaways, which is not a crime. Some of them are truants from school, which is not a crime. Some of them are engaging in certain physical behaviors with children, which is not a crime, depending on the circumstances,” he told reporters.
He said that appropriate psychosocial intervention can be sufficient in reforming these children rather than placing them in a facility with “hardened criminals.
“The law currently allows a parent to bring a child before the court and tell the court that they are unable to control [the child]. In some cases, the court uses the discretion to say if you can’t control the child, we will send him to a place of safety or penal institution,” Morgan said.
“Very soon, we will remove that part of Section 24 that give judges this discretion,” he added.