In response to the proposed legislation mandating a 20-year sentence for children convicted of capital murder, Stand Up For Jamaica (SUFJ) is calling on Jamaica legislators to carefully reconsider the implications of such a mandatory sentencing policy.
While acknowledging the need for justice and accountability, (SUFJ) believes that the current proposal fails to address the complexities surrounding juvenile offenders.
The proposed legislation, if enacted, would require a 20-year sentence for children found
guilty of committing capital murder, without considering individual circumstances,
rehabilitation prospects, or the potential for juvenile offenders to reintegrate into society as
responsible and contributing citizens.
Maria Gullotta, Executive Director of SUFJ, states,"While we share the commitment to
ensuring public safety and holding individuals accountable for their actions, a one-size-fits-all
approach does not consider the unique circumstances and developmental factors associated
with juvenile offenders. Research consistently shows that adolescents have the capacity for
change and rehabilitation".
SUFJ emphasizes the importance of a more nuanced and rehabilitative approach to juvenile
justice. A system that takes into account factors such as age, mental health, and the potential for rehabilitation can better serve the dual purpose of protecting society and facilitating the development of young individuals who have made regrettable mistakes.
Additionally, SUFJ encourages legislators to explore alternative methods, such as restorative
justice practices, educational programs, and comprehensive rehabilitation services that can
address the root causes of juvenile delinquency. By investing in the rehabilitation and
education of young offenders, we can create opportunities for them to become productive
members of society.
The organization urges Jamaica legislators to engage in a thorough and thoughtful debate on this matter, considering the long-term consequences of a rigid and mandatory sentencing policy for children who commit capital murder. SUFJ stands ready to collaborate with lawmakers, legal experts, and advocacy groups to develop a more balanced and
compassionate approach to juvenile justice.