Young offenders facility to be built in George Town

| 08/04/2011

(CNS): A site adjacent to Fairbanks Women’s Prison will be the home of the proposed Cayman Islands youth offenders facility, with construction expected to begin by the end of the summer. The site, across from the Triple C School, is currently home to the last remaining trailers in George Town, housing people displaced by Hurricane Ivan. However, government is refurbishing the Lyndhurst Apartments, where it says the trailer residents will be moved to make way for the new style juvenile prison. Although mandated in the new constitution, the minister responsible said there was a pressing need for the unit.

Community Affairs Minister Mike Adam announced the plans at a public meeting earlier this week attended by only about 30 people, some of whom were government representatives, at the Family Life Center.

Though disappointed with the low turnout, Adam noted that his ministry had recently hand-delivered pamphlets on the facility to residents of the Fairbanks Road area and they could still offer feedback on the project.

Adam pointed out there was a pressing need for the youth facility, explaining that Cayman’s rapid economic development has weakened societal structures which have long supported the family. “It is hardly surprising that we now see increasing evidence of gang activity, unemployment and crime,” he said. “We must acknowledge that we are not providing the best possible therapeutic interventions and facilities necessary to turn these children around into civic-minded, responsible, productive citizens.”

The current situation where juvenile offenders serve their time at Eagle House or Fairbanks Prison, and thus are in daily contact with adult prisoners, is in breach of internationally recognized human rights instruments, such as the Convention on the Rights of the Child, he said.

In addition, to comply with the Cayman Islands Constitution juvenile prisoners must be segregated from adult prisoners by 6 November 2013. Construction of the new facility will begin by September this year with an expected completion date of December 2012.

Ahead of the facility being completed, however, the ministry will be introducing an interim, short-term program that is slated to start by September at the Bonaventure Boys Home that will accommodate 20 boys, Adam said.

Mark Steward, director of the Missouri Youth Services Institute and architect of the Missouri Model, has been advising the Cayman Islands government on establishing the proven rehabilitation method here.

“We’re actually going to start doing some training this summer with the kids at Bonaventure (Boys Home),” Steward said. “So we’re going to start giving them some training so they can do part of this before the new facility even opens. They would be able to do those practices and we would continue to monitor and help. Then when they open the new facility, hopefully most of those staff can just move in with those kids there.”

Sean Evans, executive architect at the Public Works Department, was the lead designer of the facility, which will evoke a residence rather than a prison.

“The design objectives for the facility were to establish a safe and secure facility while maintaining a home-like environment,” Evans explained.

The entrance will look like a residential facility, but there will be several important security features. The secure entry area for visitors will have metal detectors and the section will be monitored.

Running along the back perimeter, but not visible from the front, will be a special curved chain link fence, comprising very small holes that prevent finger and toe holds, making it almost impossible to scale. There will be surveillance cameras on all the fence posts as well as on the edge of the building and there will also be motion detectors.

The facility will start out with two medium-to-low-security cottages, each housing 10 youths, with space to build two more cottages, if necessary. Newcomers will first be placed in a higher-security section, then after they acclimate to the system, they will be moved into the lower-security cottages. The centre will be built to hurricane-shelter standards as none of the youths will be allowed to leave in the event of a hurricane.

Between the facility and Fairbanks Road will be about 200 feet of forest, so there will be a buffer of both sound and sight for residents in the area, Evans explained.

Adam told those attending the meeting that the facility would offer a similar treatment and rehabilitation approach to that used in Missouri. “(The Missouri Model) is a culture and practice built upon safety, empathy and structure where the ultimate aim is to focus on building healthy relationships, self-awareness and insight, skill development, resolution of core issues and behavioural change.

“It is not a soft approach as some may think. It is, in fact, a more demanding approach as one must face and deal with their most intimate, difficult and traumatic core issues and be held accountable for one’s actions and behaviour.”

He added, “Bonaventure and Frances Bodden I think do a good job as far as care and protection, but that’s as far as it goes. There is no intervention. That’s what this program does.”

The model will be adapted to suit Cayman, Adam explained, but declined to give details. “There will be adjustments. They have identified some already and they’re rewriting some of the program, to customise it more to Cayman. The program is still being developed for Cayman. Largely it is going to be patterned on the Missouri Model, but there will be some localising adjustments in the program here,” he added.

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  1. Michel Lemay says:

    Young offenders do not belong in prisons. They will be more difficult to rehabilitate once placed with hardened criminals that could become their mentor and are more likely to become repeat offenders. I would however at the new facility consider building separate quarters for young repeated offenders or those that are charged with more serious crimes commited. If not those there simply for consuming illegal substances or petty crime could be in just as bad a position as being in a regular prison. Come on people don’t give up or turn your back on our youth. Many are in trouble also because they were at wrong place wrong time or simply influenced by others. And please ! Lets not start another debate on parents. We know that some parents are not a role model for their children or not there at all. Also as you heard before that alcohol which is legal and is also a dangerous drug to which many parents show their chiidren that it’s ok for the adults to consume it. Did you know that most adolescent start experimenting with alcohol first and when under the influence are more probe to moving on to other drugs ? Again I have to applaud Mr. Adams for seeming to be one of the very few in our present leading Goverment to get things done. Now I would expect it to be completed before the next elections because by then we were promised proper accountability . Which reminds me Mr. Bush, whats taking so long to find another Chairman for the PAC commitee? There are a number of qualified Caymanians right here right now that could get the job done effectively and it is urgent or the same can happen to the Cayman Islands that nearly happened in the US last friday. A Govt. shutdown. And Sir it would be nice to have a neutral board to insure transparency that I remember you mentionning during your last campaing before being elected. My friend who was with me at that time and had also voted for you reminded me of that over the weekend.

    • Truth B Told says:

      This is another liberal apologist trying to make excuses for society’s bad apples. 

      The best answer to "prison is a school for crime" argument is solitary confinement.  Pure and simple.  You get thrown in and you come out and in between suffer the silence of being on your own to think about what scum you are.  Cheap.  Effective. And oddly in criminology terms a greater deterrent that one would expect.

       

      • Anonymous says:

         Not to say I would vouch for the argument of the ‘liberal apologist’ as you have oh so eloquently put it, but try and look at the facts. Deciding what punishment and what rehabilitation is necessary is far more difficult than you seem to believe. To isolate someone may be a cheap option, yet as they say- you get what you pay for. It is in no way an effective option, nor is it one for the young. If they are to be denied of adequate rehabilitation, many may emerge feeling they owe nothing to the society, they may feel bitter, and they may have difficulty readjusting to the ways of a community which has long ignored them and treated them like ‘scum’. How many repeat offenders do we have in this country? Your ‘cheap, effective’ idea is one that has been over and over again proved a failure. It has been shown in the states that those who are convicted while young are far more likely to re-enter the system at a later date.

        What the young offenders need is to be shown there are other options- and it must be TAUGHT and PRACTICED, not simply half heartedly preached. They should be made to work, to study, to be involved in community work, taught discipline, and given not only the time and space to have the choice of reflecting on their wrongs, but HELPED to reflect on their wrongs. What the country should look at is also rectifying the adult correctional system because if there should be any deterrent, it should not be a weak threat of where they will next end up. I believe for the younger ones there is hope, and the adults should be given a chance their first time, but after, it should in no way be a walk in the park. I doubt many would be too worried about going to our prisons, especially considering so many can’t help but keep going back.

  2. caymanianfirst@hotmail.com says:

    Building another juvenile facility is such a load of rubbish.

    To date the government has started 1 main capital project; the shelter in Cayman Brac. Many say it is not critically necessary at this time. We can argue the same point when we consider that we already have Eagle House, Maple House, Bonaventure, Joyce Hilton Girls Home etc etc. Point being we have so many facilities already on the books to warehouse young offenders. 

    Prevention is better than cure.

    The million dollar question is if we have such limited funds why not build a facility such as a proper technical/vocational school and help our young people become more productive citizens instead of warehousing them after they offend??? We have only been screaming for a tech/voc facility for the past 35 years!

    • Anonymous says:

      I wholeheartedly agree, the tech/vocational school needs to be given greater priority! 

  3. Anonymous says:

    hmmmm. ok so now we gonna build a juvenile facility? first i thought we was broke.
    secondly…. are we going to do this right? please not another “eagle house” where they go in clean and come out thugs. also who exactly is going to work there? “experts” from where? the states? uk? remember these kids are caribbean mentality and “outa control” respect wise also. i read they were introducing a program from the states where groups of 10 offenders attended classes. have you ever seen 10 juvenile/ young offenders together in a class? i have. that wont work for a start. good luck to you all doing something at last to address the out of control young people who choose to break the law and toot guns around. i only hope you really have thought this through to the last detail and “skilled” appropriate staff”

  4. anonymous says:

    I’m wondering……….Who voted for the new Constitution? Obviously the majority did because it passed. Did anyone read it? It clearly states the we can no longer house children with adult criminals and England has given us a date to comply. This doesn’t seem unreasonable since we are one of the few countries left who lock up kids and adults together.

    Who"s kids are these? Ours, I think. The ones that we have done such great job of raising. Strange, isn’t it, that there is a lack of foster parents, Big Brothers and sisters, etc. when we are known as such a "caring" society?

    In my opinion, it must be cost effective for us to try to save a few of these kids while we still can, rather than pay later for them to enter and exit the revolving door of Northward Prison time and time again.

    I ask myself if there are kids I have noticed heading down the wrong path that, with some time and effort, I might have helped?  I know so.

    And I am ashamed to say that a few are in Northward now. But, don"t forget that there are many fine young men and women that received intervention through goverment and private organisations and kind citizens that are some of our most outstanding contributors today.

    I can only hope that we are not at the point where we have lost all compassion for children who have made mistakes…And thats what they are, kids averaging 14, 15, 16years old.

    • BORN FREE says:

      I thought we were bankrupt? Where is the money coming for all these grand plans, such as the young offenders facility, the Hilton on the bluff, the expensive & unecessary world travels etc etc? It has become obvious that the claims by the premier that the country was bankrupt was just his usual political stories (untruths) in an attempt to discredit the opposition. It is the UDP & premier that are doing their best to make us bankrupt.

      • anonymous says:

        Born Free i do not expect you to support anything McKeeva/UDP does.I am sick and tired of people like you who try to dismantle everything a government tries because of dislike or hatred, please educated readers here on CNS by posting intelligent solutions instead of hatred and garbage!

    • Hard Knocks says:

      Kids ?  No they are criminals.  And they are going to be the burglars, drug addicts and killers of the future.  Jail them somewhere that is hell on earth to send a message to their allies in the West Bay and East End gangs.

  5. Just Saying says:

    These comments make me extremely sad. With all the complaints of crime in our country you would think that implementing a program that has the potential to educate and rehabilitate young offenders and essentially drastically lower the chance that they will re-offend would be met with open arms. Are we as a country forgetting that these are still children? Children who need guidance, support and love that they might not be getting at home. Should we just throw them in jail and solidify their views that we are an uncaring community so that when they are returned to our society they re-offend without a thought ….And then what happens? They have children who are privy to the same home life they were and themselves become offenders. When do we as a community step in and end the cycle? When does the selfish “it’s not my child” attitude stop? When did we become like this because I grew up in a country who followed the “it takes a village to raise a child mentality”….. I at one time thought that there was nowhere else in the world I would ever consider raising my children but this attitude my fellow citizens is giving me pause on that thought.

  6. Anonymous says:

    A building like this is certainly going to cost a lot of money, can we afford to build this now?????, It is certainly needed, but the timing I don’t believe is right. What about the other projects for our kids that is needed as well, like the schools. Our kids are very important and if we educate them properly in a descent environment then we won’t need an offenders facility. I know Mr. Adam is trying his best to do all he can, but Sir. do we have the funds for this now, perhaps it can wait for another 2 years or so, maybe just maybe things will get better by then. We need to put our priorities in place.

    • Anonymous says:

       If we can build Hurricane Hilton then we can build this.  Our children are our future and we are way past the point of needing these facilities.  We needed them years ago.  This cannot wait.  It needs to be done now.

      I agree with the other poster: "these comments are making me sad."

      • Anonymous says:

        I believe it is written in the new constitution that rooms with independent temperature controls have to be provided in Cayman Brac hurricane shelters.

        It’s that section of the constitution that the rest of us do not have access to where it also says the Premier must have a housekeeper and all his bills paid by us, and the Deputy Premier must have someone travel with her to take care of her "physical" needs.

    • anonymous says:

      You are correct about the timing…It”s years overdue…This should be a priority….maybe something else can wait. Mother England says it must be done..There seems to be no alternative. Since it must be done, we should attempt to develop a program that has a good chance of success,or it may prove more wasteful in the future.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I am not arguing for or against the need for the facility.  With regards to the money being spent – the amount of arches, curves and other aesthetic appendages (as seen on the artist rendering on the Compass website) will not add to the purpose of the building.  A building is shelter from the elements.  It can be done simply and cost effective and still achieve the same result!  The quality of the programme is where the efficacy comes into play, not the marvelous architectural design.

  8. Anonymous says:

    It’s called a Rake and Garbage Bag out picking up the island in the hot sun all day for no pay, a bunk and 3 squares. They will figure better to work and get paid or come back again for longer.If the parents can’t teach them hard work is required to get through life then Society must but it should be no pleasurable alternative for the young offenders.First thing, pull you pants up. The whole pants down thing was a prison thing. It Signaled the other inmates that you are “available”. Why on earth did this translate into a cool way for our young people to dress. Do they really know what it means?

    • Michel Lemay says:

      Wow!!!! I am certain they don’t. I myself had no idea to the meaning and putting it from that perspective I have to say thank you 14:45 for that enlightment as it makes a valid point. For the rest of your comment we will have to agree to disagree.

  9. Anonymous says:

    here we go, another hotel.. whats the budget for this? I think we are spending too much money on these criminals! Zero tolerance.. Throw them all in the den! That’s the only way we can win this battle.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Is this so they can be close to their mamas?

  11. Anonymous says:

    Election coming. Time for the building boom to start. Good news for the construction industry at least.

  12. Subway Cookie says:

    Unfortunately the low turn out is probably because the general public feels disenfranchised with its Government. Why do you want our feedback when you are going to do whatever you choose, however you choose anyway? I hope this project works but “we the people” are not listened to and that is probably why attendance was so low.

    • Anonymous says:

      Well said.  I believe you have just spoken for most of us!

    • Anonymous says:

      I can honestly say that I knew nothing about the meeting. And I read the paper and listen to the news, but I guess not enough apparently.

    • Anonymous says:

      Actually, it’s probably due to the fact tha most of you people could care less what happens with the youth, unless it’s your child. What a selfish country this place has become! Not even the churches were represented there and they are getting big bucks to help “save” our youth.

      What a crying shame.

    • Anonymous says:

      A low turn out means that they have no interest in their children and their community.  At least that’s what I take it to mean.  Can’t complain about crime then, eh?

      That is very disappointing.