First Look

OCA scores major victory at Vanessa Wint Coroner’s Inquest

Office of the Children's Advocate | 2016-06-28 00:00:00

State facility where teen was housed to be held accountable for her death!

The Office of The Children’s Advocate (OCA) received a verdict that it is satisfied with this afternoon in the Coroner’s Inquest held at the Sutton Street Coroner’s Court in Kingston to determine how and by what means 16 year old Vanessa Wint died while in state custody at the Horizon Adult Remand Correctional Centre in November of 2012.

After more than an hour of deliberations the Jury headed by Foreman, former Prime Minister Bruce Golding, returned a unanimous verdict that “Vanessa Wint’s death was caused by suicide, by hanging due in part by the neglect of the authorities of Horizon Adult Remand Centre to place her under suicide watch and take measures to protect her from self-harm…”

The Office of The Children’s Advocate’s (OCA) carried out intense investigations into the child’s untimely death back in 2012. The Children’s Advocate, Diahann Gordon Harrison, based upon the circumstances that the OCA'S Investigations unearthed, referred the matter to the Special Coroner after the OCA had completed its probe into the matter and requested that a Coroner's Inquest be held with a view of establishing what the circumstances were that led to the teen’s death and whether her death was as a result of neglect on the part of the state.

The inquest into Vanessa Wint’s death was convened in 2013 after the OCA’s call of action and mounting public outrage from local human rights and civic groups raised numerous concerns about the safety of teens being then housed in Adult Correctional Facilities.

The Hearing began in February 2016, and since then the OCA has been a keen participant in the proceedings with a view of ensuring that though the child is deceased, her interest was independently represented. The OCA also tried to ensure that an affirmative decision would be made by the Coroner to ensure that lapses of this nature which led to the child’s death would never recur in the future.

According to Children’s Advocate Diahann Gordon Harrison "the OCA doesn't see this Coroner's verdict as a victory per se, but more as one which recognizes that there is value to having independent monitoring authorities which fearlessly seek to protect the rights of children and hopes that this can serve as a glimmer of hope. This decision also gives the OCA a sound basis upon which to determine the next steps which may be appropriate to take."

In addition, The Office of The Children’s Advocate is pleased with the verdict as going forward vulnerable children like Vanessa, who are faced with psychological and deep emotional challenges, will get some specialist attention and intervention when in custody of the state; especially those with a proclivity to self – harm.

The OCA also feels that children who are the subject of Correctional Orders must be given due care to ensure that they are placed in appropriate correctional facilities which are approved for holding children.

Posted By :Nicole Hayles

Company Name : Office of the Children's Advocate

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