Minister without portfolio in the Ministry of National Security, Senator the Hon. Matthew
Samuda, says the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) has consolidated its resources
by relocating wards from the Hill Top Juvenile Correctional Centre to its Rio Cobre facility,
which is situated on approximately 19 acres of land in St. Catherine.
“We’ve taken the bold step by consolidating these two facilities which allows for shared
services and efficiency. It allows for better management of the space and I believe, sets
the first layer of that foundation for greater consolidation for other plans. This
amalgamation of efforts, teamwork, creativity and partnership, shows to the public and
the rest of society that DCS is modernising and is modernising fast”, the Minister said.
Minister Samuda was speaking at yesterday’s unveiling of murals painted by wards, and the
official opening of new block at the Rio Cobre Juvenile Correctional Centre, which now
houses an additional 17 wards relocated from the 30-year-old correctional facility in Bamboo,
“This sends a signal to the young men in our custody that although they are in our care
they have not been discarded by society, and that in and of itself is another important
milestone,” the Minister added.
In addition to the new block, the Rio Cobre facility was also expanded to accommodate more
offices spaces, bathrooms, an upgraded medical amenity and perimeter fencing, at a cost of
approximately $120 million.
The relocation of wards, according to Superintendent Claudeth Hamilton, Director of Juvenile
Services at the DCS, was being planned over five years ago. She pointed out that Rio Cobre
facility is just over 50 per cent full and although wards from the two institutions are housed
separately, they share academic, vocational, recreational and dining spaces.
She pointed out that the relocation to an already established institution enables the continued
rehabilitation engagements and welfare needs for the wards.
“The wards continue to engage their families through the virtual platform established for
them and the presence of a computer lab also ensures that engagement with other virtual
programmes and activities, and communication with parents/guardians are more
accessible. It is a new home with much opportunity and the dedicated staff to motivate
them”, explained Superintendent Hamilton.
She further explained that the Correctional Services’ mandate to rehabilitate and reintegrate,
will be rejuvenated through a multifaced approach, which now includes art therapy. Hamilton
further alluded to the murals that were painted by wards and the donation of art supplies
through an initiative designed by the Youth for Development Network (YFDN).
To commemorate the organization’s 10th anniversary, and due to the COVID 10 pandemic,
the YFDN Chief Executive Officer and Founder, Andre Wilson, explained that the
organisation has found more innovative ways to engage young people, particularly at-risk
“Our programmes prioritise young people and their creativity by allowing them to express
themselves and enhance their own psychological development”, Wilson noted. He further
said that the initiative was able to unearth hidden talents among wards, underscoring the need
to place emphasis on softer skills.