By Floyd French
(Basseterre, St. Kitts) Political Leader of the People’s Action Movement (PAM) Mr. Lindsay Grant said the Prime Minister Denzil Douglas has not responded to his letter requesting a national response to crime.
In his Voice of Change message of July 9, Mr. Grant focused on the issue of crime and noted that the Federation has registered 13 murders in six months. He offered “sincerest condolences” to the families and friends of the latest murdered victims Darrell Webster and Shamari Williams.
The PAM leader also criticised the Prime Minister Douglas’ administration response to crime. He said that the Minister of National Security, Hon. Dwyer Astaphan’s resignation in the wake of the two recent murders “is unacceptable.”
“Hon. Dwyer Astaphan’s admitted failure as Minister of National Security demonstrates a crisis in leadership,” he added.
The press release issued by Minister Astaphan, however, does not admit any personal failure in the discharge of his ministerial duties over the last 13 years. Minister Astaphan also promises to continue the fight for social and economic empowerment for those who are more at risk to become involved in crime and all affected by crime.
In an interview with The Observer, Mr. Grant expounded on his criticism of the government’s response to crime. He identified the need for a juvenile rehabilitation facility to continue the work of the now defunct Harris’ Home.
“Years ago we had a Harris’ Home which could have dealt with youngsters who were getting into trouble before they commit heinous crimes. You have those same youngsters now not being able to have an institution like Harris’ Home,” Mr. Grant said.
He added that juvenile offenders housed at the prison contributed to over-crowdedness and made rehabilitation difficult because they are placed among “hardened criminals.”
“After 13 years of a Labour Government you can’t find an institution, you have not yet built an institution to deal with youths,” he added.
For Mr. Grant the crime statistics and the age of the offenders are proof enough for the need of a youth rehabilitation facility.
Mr. Grant also called for an after care programme for ex-prisoners. He said the Prison Service should help ex-convicts find jobs in order to make a more harmonious reintegration into society.
Another plan of action on crime, Mr. Grant highlighted, was the establishment of a management team in the police force to target known areas where crime takes place. He said, for example, that the murders are concentrated in specific areas and the police need to go into those areas.
The PAM leader admitted that his party’s 16 points plan on crime is now outdated and he called on the Prime Minister to once again engage the nation in a similar exercise that had shaped his party’s policy on crime..