‘Reserve prison for violent and dangerous criminals’

Arguing that prison should be for “the most dangerous and violent” offenders only, noted specialist in correctional reform Yolande Forde is appealing to the authorities to impose “more sensible sentencing” on young people who run foul of the law, insisting that incarceration simply creates generations of hardened criminals.

In fact, Forde is suggesting that some offenders should not even be brought before the court, preferring instead “diversionary programmes” for the youngest among the delinquents.

“If the person reaches the court as a juvenile, we need a battery of well-designed diversionary programmes. Research shows that most children who have an early involvement in the criminal justice system tend to stay in the system. There are definite merits to having some programmes that . . . divert children from going to court and being treated like adults. There is merit in keeping them from detention. Our children need to be handled differently when they run afoul of the law. There needs to be far more investigation as to the source of the problem,” the criminologist told Barbados TODAY.

On the other hand, Forde said that for older offenders, there was a need to ensure that judicial officers have at their disposal a range of intermediate, non-custodial sentencing options.

“There are lots of different non-custodial options that should be placed at the disposal of the courts. Day centres, [for example], which are intended to deal with persons [involved] in drug abuse and lacking in specific life skills . . . .Community service can be expanded . . . [and] electronic monitoring. There are different forms of intensive supervision, probation,” the criminologist said.

Forde told Barbados TODAY she had interviewed offenders in the United States who preferred imprisonment than this form of sentencing “because this is a miserable existence.

“They [authorities] can turn up at your house at any time demanding urine samples. These intermediate sanctions do not necessarily let people off. No way,” she noted, adding that people facing such sentencing are strictly supervised and controlled.

The international criminologist also advised the Freundel Stuart administration that the continued policy of suspending or expelling delinquent students would backfire Forde, who worked for the Barbados Government between 1995 and 2000, said this approach simply adds fuel to the blazing fire.

“We have to move away from a strict penal approach with respect to our children. Lots of the issues that need to be addressed cannot be done by detention or suspension or expulsion,” Forde, who has specialized in crime reduction and legal and judicial reform, told Barbados TODAY.

“If you are behaving badly and I expel you and you gravitate towards those who may already be advanced in their criminal careers and that’s where you hang out, having been expelled, and they embrace you, why do we expect this individual would suddenly be signing up for a course at the [Samuel Jackman Prescod] Polytechnic for a course in engineering?” she asked.

The former World Bank and Inter-American Development Bank consultant is particularly worried that once these young people are “thrown into” an unsupervised and uncontrolled environment, having had their education curtailed, they would become ill-equipped for a legitimate, successful, responsible adult life.

She strongly suggested that the authorities must act now if they intended to prevent the youth from joining a life of crime.

“Children who are displaying that kind of behaviour, [do] we think we are going to fix it by giving them harsh penalties, detaining and incarcerating them? No! You are just pushing them into a system which most of the time will simply revolve and revolve,” cautioned the former consultant criminologist for the Cayman Islands Government and Caribbean Community Secretariat.

emmanueljoseph@barbadostoday.bb

9 Responses to ‘Reserve prison for violent and dangerous criminals’

  1. Epaphras D. Williams
    Epaphras D. Williams August 30, 2017 at 2:58 am

    “We have to move away from a strict penal approach with respect to our children. Lots of the issues that need to be addressed cannot be done by detention or suspension or expulsion,” Forde, who has specialized in crime reduction and legal and judicial reform, told Barbados TODAY.

    “If you are behaving badly and I expel you and you gravitate towards those who may already be advanced in their criminal careers and that’s where you hang out, having been expelled, and they embrace you, why do we expect this individual would suddenly be signing up for a course at the [Samuel Jackman Prescod] Polytechnic for a course in engineering?” she asked. (c) YF

    Reply
  2. jennifer August 30, 2017 at 3:01 am

    The thing with experience, is that depending on where u acquired it may be irrelevant to this people. I hope this is not a paint all with one brush approach and integrated ideology overspread. Similar to that of prescription drugs. Goat and sheep mechanism and behavior and thought process is different. A sheep is more domesticated and will only eat only certain types of grass, a goat on the other hand will eat anything and is more fierce. Let’s await the implementation and outcome of some of these ideas.

    Reply
    • Jennifer August 30, 2017 at 4:03 am

      What our people of law have done, is to continue a justice system either subconsciously or lazily that our oppressors implemented to punishment this people since the plantation days. Ok – they removed the cat and hanging. But now we got some wanting that to come back, so the black man can do it himself on his people. But I tell you whether there is reform of all colonial entities or not there will be no good turn out. Damn if you do reform and damn if you don’t. Keep watching.

      Reply
  3. jrsmith August 30, 2017 at 5:36 am

    We have allowed the politicians in Barbados , after 50 years of (Independence Dependency) follow closely by the 1%ers to put our black masses in pure …. lock down….and under control we now have a full blown them and us society , exposing the inequality of every part of our nation……………………………..
    ……………….What do we expect the signals we are sending to our young people , confusing they minds they are schooled 5 days per week in the education system , but comes week end we are teaching them Jesus die for their sins from books which is non educational ,trying to brain wash them look at the same procedure , what has that done for their parents…………………..

    I am on the side of our young people , they need jobs , jobs we are offering them nothing, we are educating our kids with the wrong education , we need the types of educated people to automatically slot them self’s into the active rolls where and when require…….You are planning to build a house but you have all painters to choose from , thats where our country is at……..
    ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, As for crime and punishment , in barbados what confronts the people who is honest , who are the criminals the only ones seems to be black people .. lets see the figures from (DODDS) our kids they behave how they like, knowingly so they are kids, a criminal mind create criminal acts but the punishment suppose to be a deterrent but is it working…………………………
    We have politicians to make sure our societies is safe and secure, but why are we having people who suppose to be experts, when nothing works , everything is failing our people is qualified but have no experience, we are making 2 steps forward and 8 backward……….We have varying excuses for our failed societies.

    Reply
    • Jennifer August 30, 2017 at 5:58 am

      @Jrsmith – 100% correct on lock down. And very FEW can see it. The thing is that the dog has gotten too big for the Kennel. The education system encourages our children to finish school and go work for someone else who will be the 1%. We as parents then encourage them to work hard and learn to do the same, come out and work for the 1%. At no time do we tell our children to open their own business or even help them with some funds to do this. And this is because we as a people are insecure and scared to take those investment steps or push them to our children. This people will often invest in companies who gouge their eyes out and rape and rob them financially. So our people will continue to be taken advantage of. It makes no sense worrying about them old lot as them mind gone, it is the young ones we need to make a change with. The need to stop trending and design and build must be pressed upon. Stop following and lead. And we need to support them financially. This independent and liberty of mind is what was withheld from this people. The plantation is now bigger and widespread so you must be educated and compete and sell yourself to the lowest bidder aka crumb fest. We need to remove those colonial ideologies. EVERY LAST ONE.

      Reply
      • Jennifer August 30, 2017 at 6:01 am

        We need to remove them colonial constructs guiding our education and justice systems as them in themselves is criminal.

        Reply
  4. Alex Alleyne August 30, 2017 at 9:26 am

    If Barbados had spent those big $$$$$$ on fixing the education system and not on that “state of the art prison” we won’t be at this point and having this discussion.
    PUTTING PEOPLE IN JAIL IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD IS A BUSNESS, WHAT IS IT IN BIM ??????.

    Reply
  5. tedd August 30, 2017 at 10:11 am

    At long last, thank you Yoland. Finally an approach that is based on logic and clear thinking instead of emotion.

    The UK used a system for young offenders that included community service helping the elderly and counselling ASBO
    ( anti social behaviour Order).

    Reply
  6. Milli Watt August 30, 2017 at 1:42 pm

    you need a hardened society to deal wid hardened criminals……should send the not so violent by you to sleep hmmmmmmm

    Reply

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