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The issue of absorbing people who have a criminal past, have completed their sentences, and are now free men looking for opportunities to turn a new leaf in their lives has been raised by the Minister for Youth, Alando Terrelonge. The young State Minister in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information was speaking at an event to felicitate the teachers and instructors belonging to the Department of Correctional Services (DCS).Terrelonge felt that the society must accept these people back into society and afford them another opportunity to re-integrate with the mainstream.
Assimilation Only Way to Prevent Them from Going Astray
The argument being put forth by Mr. Terrelonge is that when these people step out of the correctional homes and institutions, it is believed they have been reformed sufficiently, during their term inside, to know that crime does not pay and that they need to work honestly to earn their living. However, if they do not get the jobs they seek or are jettisoned by the society at large, the efforts made at the correctional homes to bring them back to the community may be lost. The State Minister referred to those among these sets of people who have cared to educate themselves and increase or enhance their educational qualifications beyond what they originally possessed.
He emphasised that on a broader level, the Ministries of National Security and Justice along with the Department of Correctional Services have been working with the objective of reforming those with criminal records. Their efforts will have to be supplemented by the support from the community in permitting them to re-integrate and lead a normal life. The general sense is that if these people take to crime once again, then the situation may be beyond redemption.
Terrelonge then used the occasion to appreciate the contribution that the teachers and instructors were making towards this noble objective.
The broader question some sections of the Jamaican population may have is when there are no sufficient employment opportunities for educated youth with clean backgrounds, where does the option for offering jobs to these reformed youth come in? It is for the government to address these issues.