Rehabilitation of juvenile offenders suggested

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados: Attorney General Freundel Stuart says the Caribbean needs to focus its efforts on the rehabilitation and reintegration of juvenile offenders back into society, rather than vengeance.

Stuart made his remarks while addressing a consultation in Barbados on juvenile justice systems in the Caribbean. The conference was held by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in collaboration with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

“We have to move away from the retributive system of justice. We have to move away from the desire for revenge and we have to work towards a view of justice that focuses on rehabilitating the offender…and the victim.

“We have concentrated more on trying to avenge those who have been wronged (rather) than trying to reform the wrongdoer. The restoration of the victim, the perpetrator and the families of both the victims and the perpetrators must be the focus of our efforts,” he said.

Stuart suggested that alternative methods should be used in place of institutionalization.

“We should try to avoid institutionalizing our young people in these small and highly personalized societies. The stain left by institutionalization bedevils and haunts that young person for the remainder of his or her life.

“Therefore, I think we have to find other means of dealing with juvenile deviance so that we can perform that task of restoration in a more authentic kind of way that achieves results that have durable value in society. Probation orders, in some cases, community service orders and other forms of non-custodial punishment, seem to me eminently more appropriate for the deviant juvenile than this penchant for ready incarceration.”

Stuart also said that, in many cases, youth are ‘the real victims’ and adults have to set better examples for them.

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