‘Near completion’ and ‘opening soon’ are broken promises where reopening the Boys Training School is concerned

As far as the reopening of the Boys Training School goes, it appears
to be more talk and broken promises from the Gaston Browne
Administration, as it continues to push back the timeline.

Renovation of the rehabilitation facility has been going on for nearly
three years now.
Last August (2023), Government spokesperson Lionel “Max” Hurst
said the work was almost completed and the training school would
be ready for occupancy by the second week of September that year.

Why it is taking this long is a mystery, given the Browne
Administration’s position that resuscitating the facility is one way to
quell youth violence.
This was a decision the Executive reportedly mulled on February 15,
2023 during its Cabinet meeting.
At that time, Attorney-General and Minister of Justice Steadroy
“Cutie” Benjamin said he would “ensure that the Boys Training
School receives all the attention necessary to bring it back on stream
shortly, such that those who are intent on creating mayhem can be
Social skills were expected to be taught at the training school, as the
Cabinet agreed that those “wayward boys” who find themselves
involved in these violent incidents lack these important skills.

The Boys Training School closed its doors back in 2020 at the
beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. But deplorable conditions at
the reform institution – for boys aged 12 to 18 years – had existed
for years before remedial work was undertaken.

Reportedly, the extensive refurbishment of the school, which can
accommodate 20 youth, was well underway in early 2021 and was
set for completion in June that year.

The work is part of a major juvenile-justice reform project (JJRP)
being carried out across the Eastern Caribbean. The objective is to
help troubled youth stay on the straight and narrow in order to
reach their full potential.

There were very few recreation facilities at the school, and some of
the planned improvements included a new recreation room; air-
conditioning units; and new doors and windows with tamper-
resistant features.

Meanwhile, critics note that the Cabinet also keeps using the words
“near completion” or “opening soon” with reference to the
reopening of the St. John’s Magistrates Court on High Street, as well
as other government facilities.

The court, which the Minister of Works boasted and promised would
be completed by September last year and opened in October 2023 at
its original home is still undergoing repairs.
The court should have been in that facility only for a short period;
but it has occupied the community centre for four years now.

And in another soon-to-be-appointed announcement, the Cabinet
says that a health and safety officer is to be installed at the Ministry
of Works to increase workplace safety.

This appointment should have taken place after the incident in
which a worker, Gregson Joseph, was burnt in an explosion at the
Burma Quarry on June 26, 2023.

He sustained second- and third-degree burns to his legs and hands.