Redemption - Manslaughter convict bounces back with 10 CSEC subjects
Jameel* was 14 years old when he was convicted of manslaughter in 2012. He was sentenced to the Hill Top Juvenile Correction Centre where he could not help but ask himself the question: "How did I find myself in this mess?"
Jameel was apprehensive when he first arrived at the juvenile centre. He thought the worst was yet to come as he began his seven-year sentence. But the correctional centre turned out to be nothing like what he expected. He discovered that he could take several training programmes and still pursue his education. He was exposed to the arts, and went on field trips that broadened the scope of what he thought was possible for him.
While at the centre, Jameel was elected dorm captain, head boy and was a repeat recipient of the Ward of the Month award. He achieved four Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) subjects and made quantum leaps in his interpersonal skills and self-confidence.
Jameel, with the assistance of the institution, later wrote to the Governor General requesting pardon. The reprieve was granted, and Jameel's term of confinement was reduced to three years. This paved the way for him to achieve a further six CSEC subjects and pursue an associate degree at the Moneague College.
The Ministry of National Security (MNS) said Jameel's story is a living example of what it calls 'rehabilitation & redemption', which is one of the five pillars of its crime reduction strategy. Through 'rehabilitation & redemption', the ministry seeks to equip children with skills to successfully reintegrate into society after their sentence has ended. This is done under a programme called We Transform Youth Empowerment & Reintegration Programme.
The We Transform programme has four ambassadors who have dedicated their time and association. They include reggae artiste Agent Sasco, gospel artiste Jermaine Edwards, former Miss Universe Jamaica Kaci Fennell-Shirley and motivational speaker Naomi Cowan.
There are approximately 250 children between the ages of 12 and 17 years old in the country's four juvenile centres.
In an interview earlier this month, Agent Sasco told THE WEEKEND STAR that he is convinced that he has a responsibility to help rescue wayward youths.
"I decided to partner with the ministry because the idea behind it is to give these youngsters who find themselves in a situation and on the wrong side of the law a chance at reforming themselves," Agent Sasco said.
He said that he feels that while he may not be able to reach 100 per cent of the incarcerated youths, he can help them to understand that their past is not their potential.
"It is rewarding to see that these are the same people the society would write off as being no-goods. When you talk to them, you see that they have dreams and aspirations like anybody else, and if you can be one of the cogs in the wheel that can help them to move from their reality to their future then I think that is good," Agent Sasco said.
*Name changed to protect identity.