The Ministry of Justice is looking to increase the number of officers and mentors serving the Child Diversion Programme.
The initiative, which aims to direct children aged 12 to 17 away from the criminal justice system, was operationalised in 2020, following the passage of the Child Diversion Act, 2018.
Making his contribution to the Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives yesterday (May 2), Minister Delroy Chuck informed that for the 2022/2023 financial year, 161 children completed their diversion interventions and had their charges dismissed.
“The programme is so successful that one of the complaints that we get from the mentors – many of them are Justices of the Peace (JPs) who mentor these youngsters –is that… the children want to remain with the mentors even after the six-month programme is over. And to be fair, the mentors have been saying they will continue,” he said.
Child diversion is the process of implementing measures for dealing with children who are alleged, accused of, or recognised as having infringed the penal law, without resorting to formal judicial proceedings.
The Justice Ministry established this method of intervention to rehabilitate children who have committed a diversion offence, reduce the number of children exposed to the criminal justice system, and empower communities to resocialise child offenders.
Meanwhile, Chuck is encouraging Jamaicans to make use of its various support and intervention services.
“Child Diversion, Restorative Justice, Victim Services, we have an office in every parish and we need them to be more utilised to heal the nation,” he said.