Senator Gabriela Morris rips into Government's handling of crime
MORRIS ... we must move forward with alacrity towards effective interventions for youth at risk.

Opposition Senator Gabriela Morris has taken aim at the Government's handling of Jamaica's crime situation.

Speaking in the Senate last Friday, Morris chastised the ruling Administration for "failing miserably at arresting the crime monster that plagues our nation", while suggesting a "transformational change" in the approach to tackling the scourge.

Morris, who was making her contribution to the State of the Nation Debate in the Upper House, stressed that to see any meaningful change, the root causes of violent crime has to be handled in a systematic way, "while also ensuring, of course, that we're equipping the security forces and the justice system with the necessary legislation, tools, technology and human resources to carry out their work."

Further arguing that Jamaica's chronic problem of crime and violence "reflects the failures within our society as a whole", she said the systemic weaknesses must be addressed that create these conditions for many youth to become attracted to a life of serious crime.

"We cannot continue to ignore them and expect the security forces to clean up the mess. We must move forward with alacrity towards effective interventions for youth at risk," she said.

Morris suggested that a well-funded nationalised programme be put in place to provide opportunities for vulnerable youth.

"We have to give them a chance to become productive citizens through mentorship, training, remedial education and job placements. We must help to development them, by reinforcing life skills, building their self-esteem and a sense of citizenship," she said.

She also called for the return of various initiatives of the previous Administration including the Peace Management Initiatives, and Unite for Change "which helped to reduce our murder rate".

In the meantime, making reference to Tuesday's early morning quadruple murder of three women and a man at a house in Crawle, St Catherine, Morris said the incident underscores the daunting challenges that Jamaica faces in curbing violent crime.

"It serves as a stark reminder of the urgent and ongoing need to bolster safety and security in Jamaica, ensuring the protection of our citizens, including our children from the relentless grip of this crime monster," she said.

Further referencing the prime minister's infamous election promise of building a society where people can sleep with their windows and doors open, Morris said "that has fallen flat and it appears that the prime minister, the minister of security, and the commissioner of police have all fallen asleep at the wheel.

"Their slumber is unnerving for Jamaicans who see and feel the impact of crime and experience the generational trauma of crime in their homes and communities. Jamaica remains entrenched in a persistent and deeply concerning struggle against crime," she said, noting that even with the Government's continued investment in the security forces and "its reliance and somewhat insistence on using the states of emergency as a routine crime-fighting measure", the problem of crime persists.

BY ALECIA SMITH Senior staff reporter

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