Senator Golding seeks church's help on crime
MINISTER of Justice Senator Mark Golding yesterday sought the help of the church on behalf of the Government to combat crime and violence, now one of the nation's most pressing problems.
"We ask the church to partner with us as we seek to heal our communities and ultimately our country from the terrible affliction of violent crime," Golding pleaded. "One of the most influential and authoritative agents for change is the church, which occupies a place of moral influence in our society," he argued.
The minister was speaking at the commemoration service to mark the beginning of National Restorative Justice Week 2014 at the Emmanuel Apostolic Church on Slipe Road in Kingston. The week will be observed under the theme 'Restorative Justice as a Catalyst for Unity, Healing and Transformation'.
"Restorative Justice is...profound, influencing how we think about ourselves collectively as a society, how we respond to crime, and how we restore balance in relationships and communities after a crime has been committed," said Golding, adding that it offered a less adversarial approach to dealing with conflicts, unlike the formal justice system which placed the offender and the accompanying punishment of the guilty at the heart of the process. Face-to-face meeting with offenders, victims and community members was the essence of restorative justice, which gave each party an opportunity to air their grouses and have them addressed. It also benefitted the State by avoiding the use of scarce resources.
The Restorative Justice Unit in the ministry, since 2012, has implemented programmes in nine communities in five parishes namely, Tower Hill and August Town in St Andrew; Trench Town in Kingston, Granville in St James; Effortsville and Canaan Heights in May Pen, Clarendon; and Homestead, March Pen, and Ellerslie Pen in Spanish Town, St Catherine.
Host pastor, Bishop C Everton Thomas lauded the Government for the programme and urged church members and other citizens of the country to participate in the process.
"At the heart of every crime is evil, and the evil can only be cured by Jesus...Only Jesus can heal the broken-hearted," he said. "If we want to see this cake that we call Jamaica rise and not fall we can't leave out the yeast and what the Church is saying and will continue to say is that this nation needs the infusion of the Holy Ghost," Thomas added.