At-risk youth, including juvenile offenders, in Grenada have a new resource to help them integrate into society following the official opening of the Bacolet Juvenile Rehabilitation Centre on March 24. The center was built with support from the United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Juvenile Justice Reform Project (JJRP).
Under the U.S. taxpayer-funded USD$5.8 million regional project, approximately USD$700,000 was expended to support reform efforts in Grenada’s juvenile justice sector, which included exposing juvenile justice officials to child-centered techniques, tools, and modern approaches to improve care and treatment of vulnerable youth. Another achievement of the project was the development of a model Child Justice Bill for the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States. To date, Grenada is one of three countries to have passed the bill into law.
In addressing a joint opening ceremony for the Bacolet Juvenile Rehabilitation Centre and close-out for the Grenada JJRP activities, USAID’s Eastern and Southern Caribbean Mission Director, Christopher Cushing, said the facility’s opening marked a significant step for Grenada in providing youth with an opportunity to become positive change agents in their families and communities.
“USAID’s JJRP initiative promoted key reforms in how youth will be supported at the Bacolet youth center and across the Caribbean,” Mr. Cushing said. “Most importantly, this is not simply a physical facility. Youth officials now possess new tools like anger-management therapy and cognitive-behavior therapy that are aimed at understanding how youth experience the world and that help youth develop strategies to address the challenges in their lives.”
Civil works totaling USD$73,331 (ECD$197,994) completed the final phase of work on the Bacolet building, including the construction of a new “safe room” for treating youth recovering from trauma or other significant issues. Additionally, the center is now equipped with appropriate medical space that meets international standards and new equipment and tools to support technical and vocational training.
Mr. Cushing noted that what was especially encouraging was that youth leaving the facility would possess training certificates recognized by the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC), which would increase their employment potential.
Lauding the collaboration between the United States Government, the OECS Commission and Grenada’s Ministry of Social Development, Mr. Cushing said the JJRP had placed juvenile justice reform on an upward trajectory in the region. “As we look towards the future, the U.S. Government, through USAID, is committed to continuing to support juvenile justice reform that will enable youth to achieve a more stable social and economic position, and transform their lives, families, communities, and countries,” he stated.