Today’s news that Miss Lalie Youth Care and Rehabilitation Centre will receive its first two residents since Hurricane Irma damaged the complex at Cay Bay is most welcome. The lack of adequate detention possibilities for this age group was becoming a serious problem.

With today’s strict human rights requirements for properly incarcerating citizens and especially minors, there just wasn’t a workable alternative except keeping young offenders at the Philipsburg police station cells for a few days at the most. This soon became common knowledge, emboldening potential delinquents because the immediate consequences in terms of losing one’s freedom if caught were limited.

Moreover, even judges had their hands tied a bit when dealing with and sentencing youngsters who broke the law, which obviously sent an undesirable message too. Not that a prolonged stay at Miss Lalie Centre is so bad, but it at least creates some type of deterrence.

People should always remember that it’s also about educating and guiding those sent there. Work done with these youngsters in- and outside classrooms is an important part of the equation to try and prevent them from turning into revolving-door criminals with little prospect for resocialisation. 

Only one wing with a capacity for 10 inmates has been completed, while staff was still being recruited. The facility falls under the prison, and Volunteer Corps VKS will provide additional staff as needed.

It’s therefore still just the beginning, but nevertheless a significant step in efforts to offer more youngsters a real second chance.