#Armadale- Never forget

Jamaican Journal

Today marks the fourth anniversary of a horrible fire that killed seven young women in a juvenile detention facility. Armadale was its name, and these young women, along with 16 others, had been “locked down” for three weeks in conditions not even fit for an animal. The girls tried to escape one night, and in an attempt to stop the commotion, an officer threw a tear gas canister in the room, which ignited the fire. Click this link to read a first-person account from a young woman named Krystal.

These young women, deemed “uncontrollable,” had been placed in detention for various crimes. Twenty-three girls had to share seven bunk beds; they only had access to one toilet during the daytime; they were served cold food with no utensils; they could not leave the room and they received no education. They were also witness to abuses of fellow detainees and were…

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One thought on “#Armadale- Never forget

  1. Susan says:

    And 4 years after the fire at the Armadale Juvenile Correctional facility, children are still being kept in similar conditions by the Jamaican government. Gilrs as young as 13 and 14 are placed in the Fort Augusta women’s prison and in the Horizon Adult Remand Centre, a high security men’s facility in which some of the country’s most dangerous convicted men and men on remand awaiting trial are kept. The majority of the girls kept in these facilities are not there for a violent offence. Many have not been convicted of any criminal offence. The largest category of girls are there for being “uncontrollable”, a designation under Jamaica’s Child Care and Protection Act, which allows a court to place a child on a correctional order for as long as the court decides, up to the age of 18. What have some of these “uncontrollable” girls done? Stopped going to school. Repeatedly run away from home or from children’s homes or places of safety. Been having sex. Many of the girls have repeatedly run away because they are being abused – including sexual and physical abuse – at home or in the other facilities. A high percentage of the girls have been raped and have never received proper counseling to deal with this. So our government has effectively criminalized children exhibiting behavior resulting from emotional and psychological and physical trauma. There is no remand centre for girls. So they are placed in adult prisons. There they get on average 2 hours of educational instruction per day, and this instruction is not under the supervision of the Ministry of Education. They are locked into their cells for extended periods of the day. At the women’s prison, the girls mix with the adult women for periods of the day, something which is a breach of our international commitments. At the male facility, the girls are physically separated from the men, but can hear the men calling out telling what they would like to do to them. Last year, one of the girls at Horizon Remand committed suicide. In December last year 3 girls at Fort Augusta attempted suicide. The government admits that it does not provide adequate mental health care for the girls. Something which was very clear at Armadale also. Jamaica is failing these girls. Our government – administrations of both political parties – continues to preside over the abuse of girls in its care.

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