In the last week of September  Mr. Gregory Thomson, Director of the Foundation Judiciary Institutes Windward Islands (F.J.I.W.I.) and one of his co-workers, Mrs. Cynthia Filemon, Project Coordinator and Policy-advisor, came to Statia to do a project with schoolchildren from 10 years and over. The F.J.I.W.I.’s core tasks are rehabilitation and family guardianship. Because of the need to appeal to the youth,  - crime has risen among young people and 40% of the Point Blanche inmates are under 25 -, they started a crime prevention program: “Life in ===Prison”. Mr. Thomson and Mrs. Filemon were invited to Statia, because the Government is of the opinion that it is time we start talking to the youth of the island and show them what life in prison is all about, so that they will think twice before committing a crime. In fact the entire population is concerned with what is happening on St. Maarten and people don’t want to see this kind of thing happening on Statia. Winston Fleming, Policy Advisor and Assistant to the State Secretary of Justice, accompanied them to the schools and worked with them.

LIFE IN PRISON

In their presentation at the Gwendoline van Putten School  a DVD called “Life in prison” was shown. This DVD had just been shot in St. Maarten and it is very disturbing. It shows the circumstances in prison, you hear a probation officer talk about his clients; some inmates talk about life in prison, the prosecutor, a mother, and a seventeen year old girl in Point Blanche. In this DVD the pupils could see what life in prison is really like. After showing the DVD, a discussion with the pupils was started. The younger pupils were very active during the discussion. They talked about crime: “When can you consider something bad a real crime?” “Is borrowing something and not giving it back a crime?” “What is an accomplice, how big or small is the step to becoming an accomplice to a crime?”

The older pupils, ages 15 till 18, were more reluctant to start talking. But when Mrs. Filemon started telling first-hand stories about the girl on the DVD and what tragedy crime in general brings into a family, they were all very interested. The sessions ended with the filling in of a form. This form is about the family situation, whether there are rules in the home, whether there is violence in the home, if the children have fun with their family, if they confide in their parents, etc. The result of this survey might be of use when a social map of Statia is made.

It was clear that these sessions made an impression on the kids. In St. Maarten, this program hasn’t started yet, so for the two professionals of the F.J.I.W.I. these were inspiring days.

CAMP 180 degrees

Camp 180 degrees, better known as the boot camp, is an initiative that came from former Chief inspector of the Statia police Mr. Harold Look, who is now stationed on Bonaire. At the beginning of 2007 Look called a meeting with the commander of the Voluntary Corps Mr. Ernest Patrick, the head of the Guardianship Board (Voogdij-raad) Mrs. Felicia Schmidt and Winston Fleming. There was concern about the youth. There were a lot of break-ins and a lot of joyriding and something had to be done with these kids. In that meeting they came up with the idea for a boot camp. Students between the ages of 10 and 15 are now eligible to be placed in the Program. They are placed in the Program if they have committed criminal offenses or if they have been expelled from school for serious or persistent misconduct.

Camp 180 degrees, as the Program is called, started with a program for a 3 week period in July 2007. After that 3 week period, the “Cadets” as the participants are called, come to Camp 180 degrees every school holiday.

Winston Fleming, who has had military training, is commander of Camp 180 degrees. The instructors of boot camp are people from Statia, such as members of the Voluntary Corps, the Police and others who have volunteered. The Program is developed with the help of the Marines on Aruba. It’s set up like a military camp with drill and ceremony, physical training and discipline. Participants learn how to cook, do community work, and participate in projects with STENAPA (St. Eustatius National Parks) amongst other things. Parents and guardians can visit the sites and are obligated to attend the programs that are catered for them.

In July 2008  the second Camp 180 degrees Program started. Some of the kids from the first Program, returned this year, because they hadn’t achieve their goal as yet. Two kids from St. Maarten also attended this boot camp and the kids that finished last year’s version are now helping the staff by working with the new group.

For Winston Fleming working for the Department of Justice is a challenging and active job. Almost half the budget of the Netherlands Antilles goes to Justice, so the work is considered to be important. Fleming thinks the Minister and State Secretary of Justice, Mr. David Dick and Mr. Ernie Simmons are both doing a good job and care deeply about their work.

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