Crime prevention program suffering from unfulfilled potential
Updated: Nov 17, 2020
In July 2015, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) approved a $20 million loan targeting at-risk Bahamian youths and strengthening institutional capabilities of the justice system. The aim was to reduce the concerning level of crime and violence in The Bahamas, which recorded a total of 146 murders in 2015 - the year the loan was approved.
At the time, the IDB noted that “Many victims are young and male, and killed with firearms. Violence is especially acute in the island of New Providence, where the capital, Nassau, is located, with high rates of murders, armed robberies and rapes.”
The Citizen Security and Justice Program was officially launched in November 2017.
Nearly three years later, none of the projects have been implemented and insiders reveal the IDB is becoming increasingly frustrated that none of the deadlines set to achieve its goals have been met. It doesn’t help that the program has reportedly lost several talented team members due to low staff morale.
The project had four components:
1. Improve behaviors for non-violent conflict resolution in New Providence by including differentiated evidence-based interventions.
2. Help at-risk youth find jobs through training and employability programs.
3. Strengthen the justice administration system to better prosecute and sentence crimes.
4. Better help reintegrate offenders into society.
Sadly, despite the IDB’s best efforts and intentions, these objectives have yet to be achieved.
However, money is being spent as the Citizen Security and Justice Unit’s members are being paid as well as staff of IDB who are assigned to the loan in addition to providing transportation and housing.
An insider told the Gallery, “We have been paying the staff of the Citizen Security and Justice Unit salaries for three years.”
“The Violence Interrupters, which was designed and laid out under the former administration, was put on hold because they feel that someone from the United States has to be in charge,” said the insider who chose to remain anonymous.
However, they insisted there are capable members on the team who could easily fill that position and added qualified Bahamians have already been hired and trained.
There are three youth centers on New Providence connected to CSJP: Big Pond, Quakoo Street and Fox Hill.
“The youth centers that were already opened are not functioning while the centers that were supposed to be established never were.”
When the Gallery visited two of the centers on Quakoo Street and Fox Hill, they were empty with no trace of activity.
It is unclear if this is a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
In the meantime, crime continues to permeate Bahamian society, impacting even the most unlikely victims.
In May, 10-year-old Lorrencia Walkes and Peron Bain were killed and a third person was wounded when gunmen opened fire on a group of people standing outside of a house off Iguana Way.
Two weeks ago, a two-year-old girl in Hatchet Bay, Eleuthera was shot in the abdomen while sitting on the porch with her grandmother. Her family continues to cling to hope as she receives life-saving treatment.
Last week, police found themselves on two separate crime scenes in under four hours. In the first incident, a young man was murdered outside his home in Seabreeze. Hours later, three men were shot in Pinewood Gardens. One of them died on the scene.