Dismont: Treatment For Vulnerable Individuals

September 28, 2018

After watching what she said was a “very disconcerting scene” in court in which a person “resisted the remand directive and was wrestled to the ground to be taken away,” Executive Director of Family Centre Martha Dismont said that as “vulnerable individuals are being managed in our systems,” we need “to increase awareness on the level of trauma that exists.”

Speaking last night, she said, “This morning I sat in court and watched a very disconcerting scene. A young man who stated that he was unaware of why he was in court was allowed to stand before a judge to explain something which appeared he did not fully understand. The judge responded as he would in most normal circumstances.

“Unfortunately, this did not appear to be a normal circumstance. The response by the judge was to place him on remand for one week so that he can ‘think about why he was in court’. This direction by the judge triggered an outburst that resulted in a very ugly scene in the courtroom.

“The young man resisted the remand directive and was wrestled to the ground to be taken away. It was heart-wrenching to watch. I knew of this young man and felt that if the judge was more aware of circumstances surrounding this young man, he may have provided a different directive.

“The judge is not at fault, but professionals must take some responsibility for what occurred. We have a significant number of individuals who can be considered part of a vulnerable population. Our ‘vulnerable population’ can be defined most simply as the disadvantaged sub-segment of the community requiring the utmost care, specific, intentional considerations and protection.

“The vulnerable individuals’ freedom and capability to protect one-self from intended or inherent risks is often naturally restricted due to lack of access to resources and information and decreased freewill often leading to an inability to make informed choices.

“Vulnerability results from developmental problems, personal incapacities, disadvantaged social status, inadequacy of interpersonal networks and supports, degraded neighborhoods and environments, and the complex interactions of these factors over the life course.

“The priority given to varying vulnerabilities, or their neglect, reflects social values. Vulnerability may arise from individual, community, or larger population challenges and requires different types of interventions—from social and economic development of neighborhoods and communities to educational and income policies. Vulnerability has never been effectively treated by punishment.”

She went on to say: “Mental Health Court has been established for supporting individuals with mental health issues. Perhaps, with the right information and advocacy, if warranted, the judge may have referred his case to the mental health court. The behavior in court certainly suggested that there might have been such a need. A circumstance that results in the lack of ‘protection from harm’ should not be permissible for anyone.”

She concluded: “Family Centre is hosting a two-day conference on October 11 and 12 at Hamilton Princess on the effects of ‘Adverse Childhood Experiences’ [ACEs]. This conference will bring to light these issues at a very high level.

“We are asking professionals in the criminal justice system, education, the medical field, mental health field, policy analyst, human resource professionals, insurance companies, faith-based, and the public to find a way to attend this conference, so we can increase awareness on the level of trauma that exists in Bermuda and the effects on adulthood.

“Vulnerable individuals are being managed in our systems every day, and it becomes a travesty that we as professionals are not keeping them out of ‘harm’s way’. We have an ethical, moral and professional responsibility to ‘do no harm’, and to ensure that individuals do not re-live the trauma or adversity of their childhood. We did not do that today, and it is time for this situation to be corrected.”

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Comments (4)

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  1. MM says:

    The Courts usually have duty counsel on hand to assist persons needing representation , Ms. Dismont says the person appeared unaware of his surroundings, and did not respond appropriately , the magistrate reprimanded the individual , a disturbance took place. I wasn’t there , so I can’t say if the proceedings we’re fair. The magistrate if he felt the person needed help , usually would take a few minutes to explain to the person what his rights are and options , however if mentally challenged , then he may have been remanded for evaluation and the public’s safety. Perhaps more might be shared by the Court at a later date, have at this time regard that this matter, at this time is before the Court and must proceed to it’s final conclusion, subject to any appeal.

  2. MM says:

    I heard another version of the situation a few minutes, and it appears the defendant was afforded his rights , and the course taken by the Court was correct. Ms. Dismont can intercede on the defendant’s behalf, make some contacts. and make certain representations thru the duty counsel. If the defendant was playing the system , then that is a totally different matter and he will have to face the consequences.

  3. eyes wide open says:

    a disturbance took place. I wasn’t there,your s words,


  4. Navin Johnson says:

    Judge asked if the defendant knew why he was there and he said no..Judge then asked if he would remember if he was remanded for a week….The young man has challenges which were ignored and duty counsel was useless….sad situation….the Magistrates speech is difficult to understand at the best of times..