Young people jaded

Young people in this country are jaded so far as their attitude to crime is concerned.

That’s the view of the President of the Democratic Labour Party, Verla De Peiza. She told those attending a panel discussion on ‘Crime, Youth and Opportunities’ at the party’s headquarters on Sunday, that it is clear that over time the youth are feeling less and less involved in the mainstream society and this, she said, is a cause for concern.

“...Anytime that you feel excluded from mainstream society, you have the tendency to develop an alternate society and that phenomenon has been developing in Barbados for decades. It is more acute now than it has ever been before, and I don’t think we’ve lost the crop entirely, but what we have done is created a more difficult situation,” she said.

De Peiza raised the issue while touching on the matter of marijuana use among the youth and the attitude for the “last 40-odd years” to marijuana use in this country.

“...By having the strictest application of our drug offence legislation, and by having the amount as low as it is – any amount of possession counted, unwittingly we have set a significant portion of our young people outside of society. Not just by their use, but by the fact that if they receive a conviction, they can no longer get a police certificate of character and cannot find meaningful employment on the right side of the line of society,” she said.

De Peiza, a trained criminologist and an attorney by profession, said that action “immediately puts them at cross-purposes with society”. She said this is a situation that though some would find it controversial, needs to be faced head on.

“I have put my neck on the line since the 1990s campaigning for the decriminalisation of marijuana, precisely because I appreciated how it separated young persons, not that only young people use, but they have a tendency to be the ones that get caught mostly because they don’t have their own place within which to indulge, so they tend to be on the outside and they are also more likely to take risks. So they are more likely to be caught and once they have a conviction, they are immediately outside of contemplation for any legitimate job opportunities and that is one of the first paths to crime,” she noted.

She also registered her opposition to the Medicinal Cannabis Industry Act and the Sacramental Cannabis Act. In the case of the former, she said ordinary Barbadians do not have access to the quantity of lands set out in the legislation and it is again “relegating our people to be workers for others” rather than creating opportunities for entrepreneurship. Meanwhile, she said how the Sacramental Cannabis Act is scripted, pits Rastafarians directly against the Church, persons in the illegal drug trade and the whole of society.

“They very rightly have rejected [it]. It has no meaningful application in any event if you tell a person that they have a constitutional right and then you seek to hide them off from everybody else. Then you are creating an ‘us’ and ‘them’ situation again and they are correct to reject it. It makes them outcasts once again,” she lamented. (JRT)

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