The Department of Correctional Services (DCS), today received technological support from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), valued at One Million Nine Hundred and twenty-three Thousand Jamaican Dollars (JMD$ 1.923Million) to be distributed across the island’s four Juvenile Correctional Centres.
The donation comes in response to an application from the Ministry of National Security to partner with the multinational agency to mitigate against the negative psychological and psychosocial impact of COVID-19 on the children within the centres.
Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of National Security, Senator the Hon. Matthew Samuda, in addressing the official handing over of the items this morning, stated that the donation is being received at the right time, as the Ministry, through the DCS, will build out its institutional capacity for virtual engagement, in light of the pandemic.
“I thank you on behalf of the DCS for your prompt response to our request and look forward to future cooperation between UNICEF and MNS,” the Minister said, adding, “We would have had to move in this direction eventually but COVID has hastened the implementation to include virtual classrooms, court hearings and virtual family days.”
UNICEF’s donation comprised desktop computers, laptops, tablets, headsets, webcams and WiFi devices to be used in interventions across Juvenile Institutions. The equipment will be distributed to the centres with monitoring, technical support and initiative implementation residing within the Ministry’s youth empowerment programme – We Transform.
UNICEF Representative to Jamaica – Mariko Kagoshima expressed pleasure with the continued partnership and said that the partnership with the DCS’ Juvenile Services Unit is to help protect children in these facilities and Correctional workers from COVID – 19.
In March 2020, the DCS suspended non-essential visits to all Correctional and Remand Centres under its COVID-19 Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) Programme.
Commissioner of Corrections, Lt. Col (Ret’d) Gary Rowe explained, “Although the restriction on visits was necessary to preserve the physical health of our wards and inmates, it has demanded an expansion of the technological resources and platforms accessible within the Department. As we pivot to sustain rehabilitation and the required academic services to the wards, in particular, we extend thank you to UNICEF for helping us satisfy this demand.”
The Department has four (4) Juvenile Centres under its purview with a population of under 200 wards who are required to engage in academics, life and employability skills programmes.
(in photo from left to right) June Cupidon Quallo –Child Protection Specialist UNICEF; Mariko Kagoshima – UNICEF Representative to Jamaica; Sen. Hon. Matthew Samuda, National Security; Courtney Williams – Permanent Secretary MNS; Lt. Col. (Ret’d) Gary Rowe – Commissioner of Corrections.