Juvenile Justice Reform: Specialized Children Court Provide Best Practices
On Friday, November 26, the Caribbean Anti-Crime Program (CAC), funded by INL, conducted a Judicial Keep-in-Touch (KIT) on best practices in judicial justice reform. The program was hosted by the National Center for State Courts, implementer of CAC. The Judiciary of Trinidad & Tobago conducted a presentation on the Children Court, a specialized court established in 2018, to hear cases involving children engaged in minor and serious criminal acts, in need of supervision, care and protection. Judges in the Children Court also preside over children drug and mental health cases. As a problem-solving court, the Children Court, the first in the region, provides targeted intervention to address the needs of children in conflict with the law including legal and therapeutic services; multiple social and rehabilitative services; court-annexed behavior changes and support programs, peer resolution, counselling, and drug treatment. Though custodial sentencing options are utilized by the Court, intervention can also be provided through several non-custodial sentencing options that support the rehabilitation and re-integration of child offenders into society.
The Children Court project was initially funded by USAID and implemented by UNDP in partnership with NCSC. Approximately 80 judges, magistrates and court staff attended the KIT session from 10 countries: Guyana, Saint Lucia, Barbados, Dominica, Virgin Islands, Grenada, St Vincent and Grenadines, Trinidad & Tobago, and The Bahamas