Four juveniles are receiving assistance from Her Majesty’s Prison Restorative Justice Programme.
The recently launched initiative is part of efforts to ensure that the youth of this Territory are equipped with tools to make positive life choices including staying out of the prison system and provide support to enable them to pursue a good education.
Also part of this programme, Superintendent of Prisons, Mr. David Foot visited the Bregado Flax Education Center, Secondary Division on Virgin Gorda last week where he addressed the students during the school’s general assembly. Mr. Foot encouraged the students to be respectful to their parents, principal and teachers and gave them some insight into what prison life is really like. He further assured the students that prison is not a place where they should want to end up in life.
Superintendent Foot told the students that while their friends may be first in line to influence and encourage them in negative behavior; those friends will most likely not be there to visit them if they end up in prison.
While at the school, Mr. Foot also had the opportunity to speak with some of the students during an up close and personal session, telling them about his own life story and the hardships of prison life, a big part of which he noted is having your freedom taken away from them.
The school ended the visit by inviting the Superintendent back in the near future to continue his inspirational talks with the students.
The Restorative Justice Program was recently introduced to Magistrate’s Court and provides an alternative to incarceration to juveniles at the mercy and discretion of the Magistrate. The program which can last from 6 months to a year, sees a comprehensive approach to rehabilitating at-risk juveniles, as well as those who may be charged with an offence.
Restorative Justice sees parents, teachers, principals, Guidance Counselors, Social Workers, religious leaders and Rehabilitation Managers at Her Majesty’s Prison working in tangent with the court to provide structured counseling, tutoring, mentorship, discipline and spiritual guidance to the juveniles enrolled in the program through the court. It also facilitates, where necessary, other restorative measures such as community service and enrollment into supplementary programs such as Anger Management and Substance Abuse.
The Restorative Justice Program can be extended to first time offenders who the court sees would benefit from the program.