JAM | May 20, 2023

Child Diversion Programme steering youth away from criminal justice system – Chuck

/ Our Today

Reading Time: 3 minutes
Minister of Justice, Delroy Chuck.

The Child Diversion Programme, established by the Ministry of Justice, is garnering significant achievements in redirecting young individuals away from the criminal justice system, according to the Minister of Justice, Delroy Chuck.

Chuck revealed that since its implementation in 2020, over 1,000 cases referred to the programme by the courts have seen a success rate of more than 50 per cent.

The initiative primarily focuses on adolescents aged 12 to 17 who have been accused, implicated, or suspected of violating the law. It employs special measures to divert them from formal judicial proceedings and guide them towards more positive paths.

Minister of Justice, Delroy Chuck (centre, standing), engages with students attending a Child Diversion Youth Forum on Thursday (May 18) at the Hotel Four Seasons in St. Andrew. He is joined by Parish Child Diversion Officer for St. Andrew, Levi Rodney (left) and the Coordinator for the National Child Diversion Programme, Venisa Clarke-Lee. (Photo: JIS)

Chuck emphasized the core objective of the Child Diversion Programme, which aims to restore these young individuals to upright behaviour through an alternative to the formal justice system.

Speaking at the Child Diversion Youth Forum held at the Hotel Four Seasons in St. Andrew, Chuck expressed his satisfaction with the programme’s outcomes. He highlighted its ability to successfully reintegrate the youth and steer them away from continued delinquency.

The National Child Diversion Programme operates under the Social Justice Division at the Ministry, aligning with Jamaica’s commitment to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which emphasizes reducing the institutionalization of children.

Minister of Justice, Hon. Delroy Chuck (left, standing) and Parish Child Diversion Officer for St. Andrew, Levi Rodney, interact with students attending a Child Diversion Youth Forum on Thursday (May 18) at the Hotel Four Seasons in St. Andrew. (Photo: JIS)

When a young person is accused of a crime, they are referred to the Child Diversion Programme, where a tailored treatment plan is developed based on the specific offense and appropriate for their age group. This treatment plan incorporates psychological support and mentoring.

It is implemented after approval from the child diversion committee in each parish, which consists of seven to eleven members, including officials such as a Minister of Religion, Justice of the Peace, Children’s Officer from the Child Protection and Family Services Agency (CPFSA), an Education Officer, Guidance Counselor, and a Medical Practitioner specializing in child psychology.

To ensure the effective operation of the programme at the parish level, dedicated Child Diversion Officers provide management oversight. Mentors play a crucial role in the rehabilitation process, offering guidance and supervision to the children, and aiding them in addressing their behavioural issues.

Chuck revealed that even after completing the programme, many participants choose to maintain contact with their mentors, highlighting the lasting impact of the initiative.

Chuck praised the Child Diversion Programme as one of the most notable success stories in recent years, emphasizing the importance of its continuation and expansion. He expressed the hope that additional Child Diversion Officers would be trained and made available to facilitate the recovery of young individuals who might otherwise fall through the cracks.


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