A United States Government program on St. Kitts and Nevis has assisted that nation in strengthening its juvenile justice sector. U.S. Deputy Chief of Mission to Barbados, the Eastern Caribbean, and the OECS, Laura Griesmer, praised the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded Juvenile Justice Reform Project (JJRP) in the OECS during a close-out ceremony for the St. Kitts segment of the program.
Under the USD$5.8 million regional project, St. Kitts and Nevis received USD$900,000 to support reform efforts, including the provision of training, capacity building, and technical assistance to the New Horizons Rehabilitation Center, the Magistrates Court, and the Department of Probation and Child Services. More than 150 juvenile justice officials and media personnel were also exposed to child-centered techniques, tools, and modern approaches to improve the care, treatment, and advocacy for vulnerable youth.
Ms. Griesmer lauded St. Kitts and Nevis for being the first of three countries under the JJRP to pass a model Child Justice Bill into law, signaling the nation’s commitment to juvenile justice reform. She also welcomed the fact that the project close-out event was held at the New Horizons Rehabilitation Center. Since the center’s opening in 2014, the facility has successfully diverted youth from adult penal institutions and reintegrated them into their communities following periods of detention.
Describing New Horizons as “a symbol of positive change in the way youth are supported, both here and in the wider Eastern Caribbean,” Ms. Griesmer added, “The achievements under the JJRP are significant and far-reaching, and inspired interest in changing young people’s lives in all six independent OECS countries. In St. Kitts, this success would not be possible without the dedication and foresight of the government and people. For example, the establishment this center took many years of planning and represents the first of its kind in the region to offer a range of outstanding services to our young people.”
The U.S. envoy also commended the wards of New Horizons for taking steps to change their lives. “I want to acknowledge and congratulate the young people present today. You are making positive changes in your lives.”
Acknowledging the level of support the JJRP generated among various stakeholders, Ms.Griesmer said the initiative provided the means to accelerate the juvenile justice reform process in St. Kitts and to set the broader reform process throughout the region on an upward trajectory.
To this end, she pledged the U.S. Government’s continued support to juvenile justice reform, particularly in relation to strengthening diversion approaches, building the capacity of front-line juvenile justice practitioners, and supporting youth reintegration following detention.