Juvenile Correctional Centres, formerly Approved Schools are rehabilitation centres providing educational service for children, ages of 12-18 years. It must be pointed out that these institutions are not prisons but residential setting for children whom the court determines require confinement in a structured environment that will aid in their rehabilitation. There is a significant decrease in the number of children. In 2012 the population exceeded 400. However, in collaboration with the Ministry of Youth, The Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of National Security, the numbers have remained below 260 in many instances with remandees making up about 50%.
Juvenile Correctional Institutions are part of the Custodial Arm of the Department. Currently there are three (3) juvenile correctional centres and one (1) Remand Centre. The Remand Centre provides temporary housing for boys whose matters are being dealt with by the Courts. Juvenile Correctional Centres accommodate children who receive a Correctional Order which stipulates the time that a child should spend in the institution.
There are two types of residential facilities under the general rubric of juvenile correctional centres: high security and medium. The high security is for children who demonstrate a need for maximum control and intensive residential care services for example, the Hill Top Juvenile Correctional Centre and Metcalfe Street Secure Remand Centre. The minimum security institutions are those facilities in which children can enter or leave the facility under staff supervision. These are the South Camp Correctional Centre for girls and Rio Cobre Juvenile Centre for boys. The children can also leave the facility on Licence or Home Leave.
Although most of the children in our juvenile correctional facilities have been victims of varying forms of abuses, they are very talented and generally display willingness to learn especially when they are engaged in activities that stimulate their interests.
A major difference in our education programme is that our children arrive and leave any time during the year, making it difficult to deliver the curriculum to all students at the same time as obtained in the regular schools. Although we are challenged in managing the learning difficulties inherent in our context, we work closely with the Ministry of Education and intend to strengthen the partnership so that we can better address the needs of the children in our care.
In addition to academic, vocational and information technology programme, the following form part of the annual events: sports day, culture/Jamaica Day, Heroes Week celebration, Parents Day, Christmas Dinner and award ceremony.
Staff members will share that working with children in correctional facilities is not easy. Training in the following areas provides support:
- Medical health screening and treatment
- Conflict resolution
- Human rights, child rights
- Adolescent reproductive health
- Personal development and planning
- Interpersonal relationship and communication skills
- Suicide/self harm management/prevention