INDEPENDENT Senator Paul Richards says Government should consider moving the Youth Training Centre (YTC).
He made the suggestion while contributing to Senate debate on Tuesday on a motion to approve regulations on the Children’s Community Residences (Rehabilitation Centres) 2018. “These regulations are at the heart of what could turn the tide of criminality.” He said he agreed with Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi specific prison officers were doing a great job at YTC despite limited resources and were making progress.
“Just the mere thought that I am a young person trying to turn my life around, circumstances and environment make a big difference. And I am next to the Golden Grove Prison and (the fact that) I am supervised by prisons officers sends a particular psychological message to me that is not in keeping with best practice. And I would suggest at some point we consider moving YTC from that proximity to Golden Grove (Prison) because all it does is reinforce that I am next to the hard core penal institution and really that may be my fate because when I look out the window in the morning or I am outside that is my reality.”
He said the intentions of Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister Ayanna Webster-Roy with the regulations were noble but he had concerns about specific regulations.
“And that’s why I think these regulations are so important. Because we have proven in Trinidad and Tobago that you cannot fight crime effectively by pouring billions of dollars into a ministry of national security. It is not the way to fight crime effectively and turn the tide. Crime can only really be fought by making meaningful changes in the education system, in restorative justice protocols, in rehabilitation systems and a redistribution of wealth, poverty eradication and by providing opportunity and support.” He said he was concerned that it was Government’s position at this time that they would not take on any amendments on the regulations to send it back down to the House. Richards said while there is a legislative agenda and time was running out “I am concerned we are sacrificing effectiveness for expediency.”
He said if Government was asking the Senate to debate and make a contribution there should be some consideration given to amending and the regulations can only benefit from that.
“I am concerned about this developing paradigm. I hope it is not permanent one.”