Jamaican POs Host Day Camp for Youth Offenders, Inspiring US to Consider Similar Programs

Jamaica’s crime problem continues to threaten the safety of its young population.

According to a 2016 crime and safety report released by the Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC), crime in Jamaica is the direct result of politics, widespread poverty, acts of retribution, the drug market, and gang-related activity.

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Crime statistics provided by OSAC show that in 2015 Jamaica suffered from:

  • 1,205 murders
  • 1,069 shootings
  • 589 aggravated assaults
  • 577 rapes
  • 1,904 robberies
  • 1,777 break-ins

Year after year, Jamaica experiences ever-rising murder rates, which continues to keep the nation ranked among the World Bank’s and Public Radio International’s list of top ten places with the highest rate of homicides in the world.

So what is Jamaica’s Department of Correctional Services (DCS) doing to curb this dangerous trend?

Recently the DCS has taken a proactive approach to crime prevention by enlisting its probation officers to engage youth offenders in outreach programs. During the second week in August, the Probation Aftercare Services welcomed hundreds of youth offenders between the ages of 14 and 17 to its Challengers’ Day Camp event.

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An article published by the Jamaica Information Service on August 16 reported that the annual event introduced a series of topics affecting childhood crime including:

  • Self-esteem and self-worth
  • Anger management and conflict resolution
  • Substance use and abuse
  • Spiritual management and motivation
  • Healthy interpersonal relationships
  • Career development and skills training
  • Human sexuality

The camp also tried to demonstrate the consequences of criminal acts by taking participates on visitation trips to the Tower Street and St. Catherine Adult Correction Centres. Although the camp targeted offenders of minor crimes, Minister of state in the Ministry of National Security, Senator the Hon. Pearnel Charles Jr. hopes that prison exposure will alert the young offenders to the harsh realities of a more serious life of crime in Jamaica.