In March 2020, the USAID/OECS Juvenile Justice Reform Project funded the purchase of twenty new musical instruments to initiate the year-round apprentice programme. The children in this programme are being given the fundamentals required to play instruments such as the steel pan, bass guitar, snare drum, trombone, saxophone, rhythm guitar, among others. Although rehearsals have slowed due to COVID regulations, members practice weekly and have successfully grasped a basic skill level in a short space of time.
Bandmaster Sergeant Verne Miller, and the head of the Juvenile Police Band Programme has noted that,
“Juvenile justice and the reforming of juveniles is integral in our fight against crime, and when they are in possession of ways to meaningfully develop themselves, we see a direct reduction in issues relating to crime. We are training individuals — young people and giving them a new start. They would also have the necessary discipline that goes along with learning and playing an instrument which is one of the things we are striving for. Finally, we are creating a basis for these [children] to earn revenue with the newfound talent being created.”
Many of the beneficiaries of the programme, have indicated that the experience has been impactful. One youth beneficiary stated that learning to play an instrument has been fun, and he is now happy to have a way to make money. A second young man indicated that what he enjoys about the music programme is the ability to perform around the island and have new experiences.
About OECS/USAID Juvenile Justice Reform Project Phase II (JJRP)
The Juvenile Justice Reform Project (JJRP) Phase II, funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and being implemented by the OECS Commission, deals specifically with children in conflict with the law and the provision of diversion, rehabilitation and reintegration mechanisms for assisting children in the six (6) OECS independent Member States of Antigua and Barbuda, the Commonwealth of Dominica, Grenada, St Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Over the four years of JJRP Phase II, some key achievements include:
- Child Justice legislation passed in Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, Saint Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.
- A Legacy model and framework to guide the use of diversion, rehabilitation and reintegration has been developed and is being adopted in all the countries.
- Diversion and rehabilitation options being actively supported within partner countries.
- Since 2016, Over 440 children have been diverted/given alternatives from arrest or custodial sentences.
- Over 215 children in conflict with the law completed Aggression Replacement Training (ART®). Trainers trained by JJRP now deliver ART® within each country.
- More than 1,400 service providers have been trained to improve the diversion, rehabilitation, and reintegration services provided to children in conflict with the law and their families.