We started off our day meeting with the Minister of State in the Ministry of National Security (MNS), the Hon. Rudyard Spence. There we heard about crime control and rehabilitation in Jamaica and how redemption is the central theme of its correctional system. We learned about the focus young offender rehabilitation through youth engagement which facilitates social, educational, vocational, and personal programs (i.e. carpentry, agriculture, cooking, mentorship, internship, and housing opportunities).
According to Minister Spence, "the focus is to make [them--youth] better off than when they came in...learning is valued".
During our meeting we also heard, from Ms. Ella Ghartey and Ms. Shauan Towers, about the theories behind Jamaica's rehabilitation system which focuses primarily on at-risk youth.
Ms. Towers, the Chief Technical Director at the MNS, mentioned the three levels of correction and security: internal, domestic and international. She mentioned the focus on crime control on a meso (community) and micro (individual) level. For example, focusing on mental health development and assessment of a person vs. the crime they committed. A practical demonstration of this is a program that offers kids the chance to track their heart rate to teach them about triggers - how it happens and how they can regulate it in the midst of conflict.
Ms. Ghartey, the Program Manager of "We Transform" at the MNS, a young offender rehabilitation program, also mentioned the desire the MNS has in expanding crime prevention efforts within communities through more tangible opportunities. We learned about their interest in increasing their capacity for their agriculture program and halfway house programs for youth. Overall, we learned that one of the main goals is rehabilitation and reintegration of youth so they can become leaders in their communities.
After visiting the Ministry of National Security office, we stopped fro lunch at Sovereign Centre in Liguanea, then visited the Matilda's Corner - one of the 24 offices of the Jamaican Constabulary Force. There, we met with Constable N. Callum for a tour of the particularly small police station. We learned that Matilda's Corner mostly deals with vehicle collision reports where the number of employees outnumber the volume of incoming reports.
After our visit to the police station, we attended a conversation with Canada's Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Refugees, Honorable Ahmed Hussen. We heard Hon. Hussen speak about Canada's plans to expand global learning opportunities for Canadian students which includes a $100,000,000 fund put together by Canada's ministry of education. We learned about his openness to enhancing labor benefits and citizenship tracks for newcomers and refugees in Canada. We also heard about the legal barriers immigrants of various status face when trying to access post-secondary education and simultaneous employment. Hon. Hussen mentioned his desire to alleviate that burden through a recently approved $1B fund for integration programs for newcomers.
During the Q&A portion of the discussion, A member from our group, Stephanie, asked a question about how we, young professionals, can work in regards to policy making/functioning related to refugees. Hon. Hussen responded that there is a need for more awareness around the push factors of immigration such as global climate change, gang violence, and finance as a way to guide social intervention approaches both in Canada and the home Countries.
In closing the Minister noted that, "in Canada, we are not building walls, we're building bridges".
We ended our day by going on an excursion in August Town, St. Andrew, led by Ms Eka Patterson from the UWI film project in the Centre for Tourism and Policy Research. August is considered an inner city community and has a reputation for violence. However, the community is also rich in history and culture. It was the home of Revivalist Alexander Bedward. It also has a large Rastafarian community. In addition, August is the home of one of Jamaica's popular reggae artiste, Sizzla. It was a beautiful experience that expanded our knowledge of community development and collaboration in Jamaica. While walking through some areas, we were able to see how the beautiful town has developed and is founded on ability and critical thinking.
Our trip leader mentioned the focus they have on building up on the natural talent of residents, as well as the effects of negative thoughts created and perpetuated by other communities. During this time, we had the opportunity to witness the artistic ability of community leaders within their own studio.
August town illustrated a way for us to understand the social barriers that people in communities face while still managing to encourage a positive and edifying atmosphere for its residents. Overall the trip to August town enabled well rounded perspective and insight towards the residents and the culture they've cultivated over time.
Our reflections of today's experience included the demonstration of policies and how they may not be as efficient/effective when put into practice. Some concerns were raised about the need for further social services development in regards to civilian security and support. Ultimately, we realized our future professional careers have the potential to fill in those service gaps which we agreed is inspiring.
Highlight of the day: (In August town) When asked if any of us was interested in recording any music and Ivan volunteered some of his [unexpected] rap free-styling skills.
Authors: Leah and Jasmean.