Today’s Editorial November 23: Young offenders shouldn’t be in adult jail

There’s some disturbing news coming out of the latest report from the Human Rights Committee.

Members of the committee have found that we are doing an injustice to young criminal offenders by sentencing them to detention at Fairbanks Prison.

Some of these children have been as young as 13.

While trying children as adults neither reduces crime nor rehabilitates the children, it often leads to abuses.

Adult jails lack the infrastructure, staffing and programmes to handle youth. Locking up these children in adult jails is a violation of their basic human rights.

The committee looked at the court cases of five juvenile females between the ages of 13 and 16.

It was bad enough that some of the girls were sent to Fairbanks, but these children were not even represented by an attorney at or before the hearings.

We do have Eagle House and the Frances Bodden Home, but neither is affective in meeting the needs of juvenile offenders.

These children need counselling, retraining and education.

Just because a child has run afoul of the law doesn’t mean we should pitch him in jail and check him off as a blight on society.

It is our duty to do all we can for that child to help him turn his life around and get on the right track.

The education children get in adult prisons is the kind that will teach them how to perfect their crimes, not the kind that helps rehabilitate them.

The Cayman Islands should have a special programme tailored for youth offenders. Jail isn’t the answer.

When push came to shove Government was able to come up with a way to fund the new drug court.

We implore our lawmakers to find a way to build and staff a proper facility for young offenders.

Children who break the law can and should be rehabilitated.

Making sure these children get all the help they can is about more than human rights, it’s about doing the right thing.

We shouldn’t be failing those children.

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