Child sent to correctional facility for bed-wetting
The Office of the Public Defender has launched an investigation into why some children in correctional facilities have been described as exhibiting 'uncontrollable conduct or behaviour'.
Speaking with THE WEEKEND STAR yesterday, Public Defender Arlene Harrison-Henry said that there are 66 children in various correctional facilities, according to a report from the Department of Corrections.
Henry stated that of the 66, one was in a facility because the child 'wets' the bed. Another was there because he/she likes to 'roam'.
"What we want to know and are concerned about is what is the conduct that meets uncontrollable behaviour," she said.
Harrison-Henry stated that where a child/guardian proves to the court that a child is uncontrollable, the minor can be placed into a correctional facility, but the court also has the power to order that the child lives with a fit person.
"This particular part of the Child Care and Protection Act is proportionally harsh on children. Uncontrollable conduct is not an offence known in the general criminal law. It is certainly not applicable for adults. As a category of offence, that is only for children," she said.
She stated that in 2007, various stakeholders, including the police and resident magistrates, had discussions about this particular section of the Act being repealed, but this was not done.
"It continues to be used so we see parents taking the child to court and say 'Judge, mi can't manage him'. What we have found is that a large portion of these children are girls. In addition to finding out what is uncontrollable conduct, we are trying to find out if this is a way for parents to discharge of their parental responsibilities, because it is the parent or guardian who takes the child to court," she said. "We would like to see every child that goes before the court to be adequately represented by effective council."