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Fix St Michael’s or shut it down

News day / Staff told Newsday the current procedure, practice and conditions are turning misunderstood children into criminals, rather than rehabilitating them.

The call came after Newsday reported that 11 of the inmates at the home had escaped last Tuesday. Staff members said there is a need for the home’s perimeter to be fixed, for security cameras to be installed and for staff to be trained in the methods to deal with the unruly children at the home.

“Are they going to de-commission the home, or put better staff there?” questioned one staff member, “There are no “bad” children. These children, like all others, need love and attention.

But the people in control of the school are not doing what they are supposed to do and the children are suffering because of it.” Staff members said that they alone should not shoulder the blame for the escape of the 11 boys, but the blame should go all the way to the Prime Minister.

“The staff alone is not to blame, the fault should go from the magistrate who puts the children in the institution, to the Children’s Authority who handles the legal aspects of the home, to Prime Minister Rowley who is the minister for the area,” said a staff member.

“The boys are running away because the fencing has not been fixed. So children escape and return to the home with drugs. What are they doing to fix the home? The home takes in children with serious charges, like murder, drug and gun possession and robbery.

How do you treat with them?” Two of the 11 escapees were recaptured last Thursday afternoon in Santa Cruz. The mother of one of the children who remain at large, contacted Newsday, saying her son has complained of ill treatment at the home. “When I go to the home they give me the best report but when I talk to my son, he says they are treating him real bad in there.” “I tried talking to the Children’s Authority about the abuse last year, but nothing has been done. They need to get rid of all the bad apples and the bad security and make a change in that home,” she said.

Officials at the home reported the 11 teens missing at about 4 pm last week Tuesday, after checks were made at the rehabilitation wing of the school, where the escapees were said to be placed.

The boys were said to have been placed at the home after they were convicted of several crimes. One was arrested for his involvement in the robbery and murder of former soldier Calvert Dexter James during this year’s J’Ouvert celebrations.

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