Government considers Treating Young Criminals Like Adults, Amending Child Justice Act

Cutie and Gaston

The government plans to amend the Child Justice (Amendment) Act of 2018 in order to treat young offenders as adults.

In recent weeks, there have been instances of serious crimes, such as rape and murder, involving children as young as 13 in Antigua and Barbuda. However, the current laws state that minors below the age of 12 cannot be held accountable for criminal offenses, while those above 14 can only receive a maximum prison sentence of three years.

The legislation also prohibits the imprisonment of 12 and 13-year-olds, but alternative sentences and counseling options are available for them. Attorney General Steadroy Benjamin stated on Observer radio that the Gaston Browne-led administration intends to make constitutional changes.

He acknowledged that some people believe the Child Justice Act prevents the police from arresting juvenile offenders involved in serious crimes, but clarified that this is not the case.

Benjamin revealed that discussions have taken place with lawyers and stakeholders who have expressed concerns, prompting the government to review the law.

The aim is to ensure that when young individuals commit heinous offenses, they are treated in the same manner as adults in Antigua and Barbuda.

Benjamin expressed his worry about the recent increase in criminal activities involving young people, stating that most of these offenses are now being committed by them.

Before implementing the amendments, a meeting of stakeholders will be convened to determine the best course of action.

Benjamin emphasized that while all parties need to come together to decide on the way forward, the government will no longer handle these young offenders with leniency. He referred to them as hooligans who will be dealt with accordingly, emphasizing the government’s commitment to maintaining law and order in Antigua and Barbuda.

The meetings, according to Benjamin, are expected to take place as early as next week.

As the national security minister, he highlighted the need to address the issue promptly, reassuring the nation that when young individuals engage in disruptive and threatening behavior, the law will intervene to curb such actions.





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  1. Fix or rebuild COMFORT HALL….. EXPAND IT YO INCLUDE areas for maximum security, psyche evaluations and petty crime. All cannot be housed in ONE PLACE!!! And don’t consider 1735 as an optional housing as that will just make them come out even worse

  2. We decrimalized the use of Marijuana like it was an encouragement for young children to start smoking, these children must be mixing Marijuana with something and the type of music they are listening to. The government erred when they decrimilize Marijuana, they should have educate the youths them on the use of the plant not just decrimilize. The government hasn’t place good measures in place to help the youths, gave them the clearance to smoke as you like. Now the problem escalate !

  3. Totally agree! Adults or children, you do the crime, you serve the time. Children do nonesense because they know they’ll get away with it. Crack down on their nonsense yes!

  4. Here’s my thoughts on this matter. First I’d have to say that I was VERY disappointed with Mr. Hurst response on state television whereby he more or less stated that it was wrong to put youngsters in prison for extended period with harden criminals, when the youngsters have committed serious crimes.

    This comment is a two side coin. First, we have to show all persons who contravenes the laws of Antigua and Barbuda that there are consequences for their anti-social behavior. If there’s petty larceny, or a fight where there are no serious injures, and these persons are first time offenders, then I can see where the courts look to mercy.

    However, where you have young persons commenting serious crimes such as armed robberies, murder, and rape just to name a few, then the state MUST step in to break this anti-social behaviors. If this behaviors isn’t nipped bright and early, then we could have a state that falls further into chaos when these youths get older.

    With that, I recommend that apart from building a new prison, we have a facility for young people, with properly trained persons to over se the detention facility for these young persons. It CANNOT be run like how the boys training home was run back then (I’m not aware as the home for girls was run, nor am I sure it was even a detention facility or if they had problems there. I’m also not sure if it is still operational). Trained persons with the highest moral standards must be in place to run this facility.

    Now this facility can’t be just for detention. It has to be used to reform and guide persons who enter the compound. They can be taught, like they were in school. Those who are not interested in reading book, for whatever reason, then you teach them a trade. As such, when they are out, not only can they, hopefully, function in society, but now they have a skill, or education papers that can take them to the next stage in their lives.

    Some of these persons have just fallen to the wayside, and they are not being looked after properly by their parents, and are left to learn about life from other persons in the society, who themselves don’t know about life, or have a warped version of it.

    Also, you can’t have small sentences for persons who commit major crimes.

    I’m aware of a situation in the United States where a minor killed another minor, over the affection of a girl. He was sentenced to life imprisonment, WITH THE POSSIBILITY of parole after serving a minimum of 15 years.

    During this time, that minor has available to him all of the resources that the state can provide to assist him in becoming a better person in society.

    I”m sure other persons in society can add, or even improve on what I’ve suggested, but it just can’t be that you increase the prison time for the youth, without having the proper facility in place to handle them while they are imprisoned, and when they leave the gates after serving time.

  5. A heavy handed approach is the solution? Anyway Benjamin is the minister of justice. The info shared shows that many of these offenders have already had a hard life. Doubt they care whether they will have to spend the rest of their lives locked away. My take is we need better after school programs. At risk kids need to be identified early and proper programs put in place to help them. Long past time for our curriculum to be more Afrocentric. Time for the hotels, employer and employee to work on proper daycare and nigh care for children. This practice of children being left by themselves need to come to an end.

  6. @tenman … even a broken clock is right twice a day. I agree with the daycare and night solution, you propose as well as a more Afrocentric curriculum.
    The fact is Cutie may be the AG; but he has no clue what to do with the spiraling crime wave; so, he accedes to biggest noise makers. Do a review of the events surrounding his office. It’s littered with incompetence.
    There is no easy answer. The social fabric is array. the education system alienates many. Politicians set nasty the tone on social media and seems to benefit by it. Social media is most of the young male education system as well as their entertainment. A high percentage of them leave school semi-illiterate. They have never learned to reason or discriminate on right and wrong. They lack emotional intelligence. The legal fraternity feeds on them. The politicians feed on them. The church ignores them. The police have no clue what to do, other than issue statement crafted by a PR amateur.
    We pretend there is no gang activity, when it’s real. Soon we will be making international news.

    • @Winston Southwell May 29, 2023 At 11:13 am
      “The fact is Cutie may be the AG; but he has no clue what to do with the spiraling crime wave; so, he accedes to biggest noise makers.”
      The Attorney General is not in the business of fighting crime. For that we have the Police. And they are a separate and independent branch in our system of government. The AG is the chief legislator. That is what his office does. Write the laws. So, all the laws you see that have been passed in Parliament have to go through his office. And to date they have done an excellent job. Even a simple contract with the government is reviewed by the office. And when the expertise is not inhouse he has the authority to look outside. And we can see that with the opinion he solicited from some Kings’ Councils on whether the GG has the authority to call an investigation i the executive branch?

  7. People raised on love act differently from people raised on survival.

    It’s extremely important to find the root cause of the problem that’s making children engage in these types of behaviors. It may sound simple and or even illogical, but diet can be a trigger for irrational and violent behavior. GLUTEN can cause some people to act aggressively; it’s a known to cause Schizophrenia.
    Read all about its devastating effects in the book
    Grain Brain by Dr. David Perlmutter.

    School children were tested to rule out heart damage — they should also be tested to rule out leaky brain — A serum antibody test for elevated occludin and zonulin can determine permeability.
    Also, mRNA/LNP have been noted to cross the blood-brain barrier — children with leaky brain would be more susceptible to damage.
    We’re observing an increase of heinous crimes carried out by children throughout the Caribbean. What do they all have in common that may be the catalyst?

    No amount of prison time, or charging children as adults will fix the problem if we don’t know what’s causing the problem in the first place. Every angle needs to be examined — Let’s All put our heads together to find the cause; let’s All put our hands and hearts together to put an appropriate solution in place; let’s All save the children, and the future of humanity.

    • @Sugarapple. The problem is not gluten. It’s black, fatherless homes, Black women having multiple baby daddies. Carnival. Black father’s with multiple baby mothers, paying attention to none. Don’t Syrian Chinese and white children live here too? Are they a part of this problem??

      • @Fess Up.
        Yes, yes and yes again. I refer unapologetically to these men as ram goats as their behaviour is no better than that of those animals. The least a man who scatters his seed here, there and everywhere should do is to provide for the welfare of their offspring , be a loving father and keep in constant contact with their children. I doubt very much whether some of their children know who their fathers are so there is no role model for them to emulate. Their upbringing is constantly left to their mothers who quite often have their hands full in providing food and shelter for them. We must acknowledge that men here have always behaved historically in this irresponsible manner and yet society has never experienced the upsurge in crime as we have today. Add to that imported negative influences and as another poster pointed out the decriminalization of marijuana which has undoubtedly added to the crime rate. Unless and until we look in the mirror and try to address our shortcomings we will never overcome the deep malaise in which we now find ourselves.

  8. I totally agree, if you can do the crime you can serve the time.Too many young boy are sexually abusing even their own family members and police say they can’t charge these young boys for these crimes.Now these young men feel they can committ any crime they want and due to the law that protects Minors they can get away with these crimes.Its about time that the laws be amended.

  9. I can still hear my father’s voice when he was going to give us licks, taking of his belt and saying, “a big man you wan play”. And whoops the belt came down. he also said, “two big man cannot live in the same house”. But them these youthful criminals I’m sure never had the benefit of a father figure in the home to keep them straight. Now the government has to do what the missing in action father had to do. But I think no parent should be left off the hook when their child has become a burden for the state. They should be made to pay for all the expenses incurred in bringing up that child that they have neglected. And especially the male should be held accountable. We have too many fathers missing in action, leaving the mothers to try and bring the child/children up by themselves. It’s a very unfair society if you ask me. This is a social ill that we must legislate and make right. Men needs to live up to their responsibility. Only dogs live that way.

    • @From The Sideline aka Mr. Arrogant_Condescending…

      A…IT TAKES A VILLAGE. A concept within Our Culture which was annihilated by the Eurocentric Education Curriculum put in place by Harlot Throne of Windsor Palace and managed by our OVERSEERS and Gangsters formerly known as #De Tally_Man.

      B…Our Culture have always being for the most part consisted of single parent(mostly females) households. This is due to the fact, that things such as #BASTARDIZATION were out in place by religion/religious orders, maintained and practiced by those who were and #WHO’RE charged with managing our communities. A great example of this practice was Vere Cornwall Bird, Snr., the so called Father Of The Nation.
      Gaston is walking the same path of #BASTARDIZATION(fatherless homes).

      C…again, many of us are products of single parent households, yet, WE STILL RISE, are not criminals and have produced excellent off-springs.

      Your REACTIONARY diatribe is nothing more, than fluff being used, to give #LACKIES like you, the appearance of being proactive.

      Ras Smood aka Jumbee_Picknee
      De ‘ole Dutty Peg🦶🏿Garrat_Bastard

      Vere C. Edwards

  10. @ Sidelines The separation of the various branches of government is a known fact.
    The Attorney General does not even draft law its done by the Solicitir General at the direction of the AG and the young attorneys in the Legal Affairs. I know he is not in the business of fighting crime.
    He brings proposed laws to Parliament and those include proposed laws with regards to everyday criminal activity. These laws either puts a damper on crime or in their absence allows crime to run amuck. That is the state of affairs Antigua is in.
    He is not without blame. Did he have anything spiraling criminal activity?
    The article says:”As the national security minister, he highlighted the need to address the issue promptly, reassuring the nation that when young individuals engage in disruptive and threatening behavior, the law will intervene to curb such actions.”
    He has no foresight he is reactionary only now addressing the issue, when crime has become an epidemic Antigua
    Nothing to do with crime you say? Why he claiming to be addressing the issue promptly?
    In addition I wrote nothing about fighting crime, those are your words not mine. Let’s argue in the merits of the issue: Cutie Benjamin is incompetent and a man without integrity. At least spineless Lester Bird fired his incompetent AG. Gaston will never do so for they are partners in crime

  11. I won’t even bother to read this article.
    The problem in Antigua is that the government ministers are qualified gangsters and thieves. So, why should we expect anything different from the youths.

  12. Wow! An enormous amount of hot air being vent, but no meaningful solution to counter against rap and myrder com.ittrd by youths.
    The solution is not to allow them to continue to be a burden to society. b
    Building new facilities, longer prison sentences will not bring back to life that they have taken, nor will it heal the psychological damage and the emotional scars that theirrape victims having to endure for life. Therefore hanging should be considered as the alternative in cases where evidence is beyond reasonable doubt. An example, Rudi who was murdered in broad day light. His murderer was caught on camera. He deserved to be hung.

  13. 😃😅laughter is still food for the soul, even when one is laughing, at themselves’😎
    These measures are REACTIONARY POLICIES, to suppress what is happening, in terms of the uptick in violent heavier amongst the youths.
    Where are the PROACTIVE POLICIES which these nattering nabobs should have had in place, to deal with what is happening which by the way is not endemic to Antigua, Barbuda & REDONDA?
    This behavior amongst the youths is happening in many Nations, especially, in communities which were and are still being underserved, again, due to political agendas, policies and down right don’t give a damn attitude towards people who are less fortunate.

    An example, of being PROACTIVE in dealing with the youths and their negative behavior, is, and I repeat, a School located on lower St. George’s St, in Point, operating now for over twenty years or thereabouts. It’s owner(not sure), Mr. Carter and others realized and recognized what was happening to the youths, especially the young males and took action. They had an #ACTION PLAN, and put it into ACTION.
    This is proactive measures. Gaston Browne should/MUST know about this, since, it’s in the heart of City West.

    Jumbee_Picknee aka Ras Smood
    De ‘ole Dutty Peg🦶🏿Garrat_Bastard

    Vere C. Edwards

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