Mussington: New prison not the way forward for our young people

MARIGOT–Long-standing educator and former Territorial Councillor Louis Mussington said Tuesday he disagrees with MP Daniel Gibbs’s attempts to get the prison discussion for St. Martin back on the table, saying education reform must take priority over a penitentiary.

Gibbs recently met with the Minister of Justice in Paris where the prison for St. Martin was brought up again.
“To me it sounded like he (Gibbs) was making it a priority but what’s the point when Government has already shelved the idea?” Mussington questioned. “I cannot subscribe to it because if we have a large number of young people languishing in prison it’s because of the failings in our education system and lack of planning by those responsible to have a proper strategy in place to deal with the problems of young people.
Treating the symptoms without getting to the root of the problem is not the way to go. Repression and imprisonment is not the only solution.”
He said focus instead should be placed on fixing the problem in the education system and implementing a clear policy for higher education.
“President François Hollande when he was here on May 8, 2015, confirmed his government supported for St. Martin, among other things, a socio-educative (rehabilitation centre), hotel and culinary training institute, a branch of the university to develop languages, etc.
“I’m saying it’s more in our best interests to follow up on these key issues when Government has already committed technically and financially to help St. Martin. It’s more constructive and useful to put our energy into this.”
Mussington quoted the Mayor of Bordeaux Alain Juppé when he was campaigning in the primaries here last week who said “education has to be at the heart of priorities for the French government,” adding that all the Mayors of France were united in one voice to tackle juvenile delinquency and violence in inner cities, to reduce the rate of school failure.
“No doubt a hotel school will meet the needs of some restaurateurs who have difficulty hiring staff and a rehabilitation centre with a psychologist and social workers can obviously contribute to integrating a fairly significant percentage of young people who are drifting on the margins of society or have been in prison in Guadeloupe,” he said.
He stressed his view should not be interpreted as not being concerned about security.
“Those who are a menace to society should be dealt with in a strict manner but first we have to do what needs to be done to prevent these delinquency crimes from happening in the first place and avoid jail sentences. That goes back to education.
“We need to prepare our young men and women, train them and educate them, to make sure they are ready for the job market. We cannot build an economy if our young men are in jail. There’s no need for prison if our young people are gainfully employed.”

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Source: Daily Herald
Mussington: New prison not the way forward for our young people

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