Former attorney general calls for reform of juvenile justice system
Former attorney general in the Democratic Labour Party Adriel Brathwaite, today issued a statement following two recent incidents involving minors.
One incident is the stabbing death of Shaundra Latoya Davidson of Waterhall Land, St Michael, last week.
The other involved two teenagers who were recorderd slapping elderly folk in The City last week. They apologised during a Press conference on Monday.
The statement from Brathwaite follows
“Two incidents over the last weeks involving minors has highlighted the need for urgent attention to be paid to the reform of our Juvenile justice system. I shall limit my comments for obvious reasons to the two minors slapping elderly gentlemen and being brought before our cameras to make public apologies.
“I am concerned that their lawless or boyish actions, depending on your point of view, were recorded and sent viral.
“My concern is on two levels immediately. The nature and source of the interventions and the fact that with modern technology a human resources manager somewhere may download these pictures and use them as the reason not to employ these young boys. The unintended consequences of modern technology.
“Let me place on record that I am empathetic to all the victims, in particular to the family and friends of the young lady who tragically lost her life.
“Between 2014 and 2017 much research was conducted on the reform of the Juvenile justice system in Barbados. A draft bill was prepared and circulated. The events of 2018 intervened and prevented the bill from reaching parliament. The work has been done. Two years is more than enough time for government to enact modern Juvenile justice legislation and practices in Barbados.
“If I can go back to the two young boys, a modern system would see the police properly trained with clear guidelines on what interventions are required. These interventions may indeed involve the Nature Fun Ranch.
“These interventions may involve apologies being issued to the victims. These interventions may involve counselling. What the interventions would not involve is the parade of our young offenders, the public apology and the public comments by other actors that they are satisfied with the outcome.
“The boys have apologised. The media moves on to the next story. The actors move on to the next issue, but our present juvenile justice system would not have adequately addressed the issues which may have contributed to the boys’ behaviour.
“We would require a psyco social analysis of each child. A review of their living conditions and familial support. Suitable resources whether they be from welfare, child care, probation, police, NCSA obtained and applied so that these boys would truly have the opportunity to reform and realise that slapping the elderly for fun is just not allowed in modern Barbados.
“Our modern juvenile justice system would require much training of all including police, magistrates, welfare officers, the church, all who would possibly be in contact with a minor who comes into police custody and before the courts. Our system would and must see two victims in any incident and provide for both.
“The system supports, where possible, the offended party, damage to property eg maybe put right by the child or his family and, where possible, every attempt is made to reform the child. I have deliberately used the word ‘child’ because we at present are quick to call them ‘criminals’ and forget that they are our children in need of our guidance, love, support and direction.
“Let’s move with haste to modernise our Juvenile Justice system. Let’s save more of our children.” (PR)