Prison focuses on rehab

| 11/01/2012

P1100027 (235x300).jpg(CNS): Government will be placing far greater emphasis this year on the rehabilitation of offenders serving time in the prison system with the aim of reducing the high rates of recidivism. The prison revolving door owes much to the inability of offenders to find work once released, driving them back to survival through crime and ultimately back to the prison. Having secured government funding for full time teaching staff and support from the business community, the prison will now be much better placed to address inmates’ skill sets and equip them for a crime -free life when they return to society. 

A combination of government cash, training by the education ministry, community support from the business sector and volunteers, as well as the findings in a new report due out this month, will help shape a new way forward for a full rehabilitation programme for prisoners as they serve their sentences and continuing through into the community.

Key to the rehabilitation is addressing the literacy problems which affect around 80% of inmates. Until now the prison has depended heavily on volunteers but this year HMP Northward will have its own full time literacy tutor and the Ministry of Education will also be teaching at least 6 prison officers to become reading tutors.

The plans for a full time education programme that can address the needs of all the prisoners, from those who cannot read to those seeking a useful skill to use on the outside, government hopes to address the persistently high levels of repeat offending.

OnTuesday prison staff and inmates welcomed representatives from the University of the West Indies and local law firm Mourants to officially launch two pilot courses for inmates, which are already over-subscribed.

Twelve inmates are currently on the computer maintenance course, which will now be accredited by the university and funded by Mourants. The course, which is taught by a prison officer who is also a technology expert, meets industry standards and takes inmates from not even knowing how to open a computer to being able to repair a range of engineering problems .

Just one of a range of classes and educational opportunities now planned by the prison, Kathryn Dinspel-Powell from the Portfolio of Internal Affairs, who is currently co-ordinating the review of the system, said that the key to inmates' rehabilitation was literacy. Without basic reading skills there are few courses that the inmates can take and gain qualifications they can use on the outside. Natalie Ceasar, the prison’s education co-ordinator, said that the new literacy tutor will co-ordinate all of the prison’s existing programmes and will oversee the training of prison staff tutors, as well as the various external support from volunteers and other tutors.

The Institute of Public Administration of Canada, which was commissioned to review the system and produce an independent report, will be publishing their findings this month and Dinspel-Powell said the findings in that report will guide future spending plans but education will be at the core of the new rehabilitation strategy. The goal will be to shape rehabilitation programmes for prisoners that will also involve their families to ensure the support goes beyond the prison walls.

With the prison system budget running at more than $14 million, inmate numbers rising and crime at an all-time high, there is a pressing need for government to address the failing system and concentrate on rehabilitating every prisoner returning to the community.

In an interview with CNS in 2011 Franz Manderson, the chief officer of the Portfolio of Internal and External Affairs (and now the Deputy Governor Designate) said that tough prisons don’t work.  “Tough prisons do not make good prisoners, just tough prisoners,”  Manderson said as he pointed to the portfolio’s goal to tackle recidivism through rehabilitation.

He said the public needed to understand that the loss of liberty is the punishment and that when inmates are incarcerated they should not be mistreated by the system itself but given an opportunity to change their ways.

Category: Crime

Comments (29)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Maybe we can get jobs!! That would help also 🙂

  2. Anonymous says:

    "But my boy is such a good boy". Moms ..Dads (if you are acting like a Dad and taking care of your family)….if it quacks like a duck…It's a duck or maybe you don't even know what a duck looks and sounds like. Which in the case of the latter there is no hope and the rest of of trying to keep our lives wrapped in the moral fiber just have to share this rock with you shaking our heads wondering why it is people have to being such difficulties upon themselves and their families. Work hard and treat people with respect. NOT Gansta Respect for all you dummies out out there. The kind of respect you get by working HARD and being an honest person.

  3. Anonymous says:

    The Prison need some more church related programs to assist the prisoners to turn and seek Christ first.  It they put Jesus Christ in front of everthing they do they will turn themself around.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Hmmmm, it is ironic that as the crime rate increases, more and more people will opt to live in gated communities that are surrounded by armed guards and razor wire.

     

    Hmmmmm, who will be in prison then?

  5. Anonymous says:

    Just thinking out loud but if the schools couldn't educate them the first time around when they were little, what chance does the prison system have? It seems like wishful thinking. Maybe if they had to go to class to pick up their smokes it would be an incentive.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Got no quarrel with the aims here but where are the jobs when they come out?

    People re-offend for a number of reasons but the main one is money and the only way you legally get that is to have a job and there ain't many of those going around right now.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Anyone that can't afford an education just has to break the law….and get caught.

  8. so Anonymous says:

    Right! Give the convicted criminal what you will not give the law abiding citizens.  AND spend the law abiding citizens money to do it.  Caymankind.

  9. Anonymous says:

    12.35 all your thumbs down probably came from Northward.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Why do we spend money rehabilitating persons who will be deported? Just asking

  11. Judge Dredd says:

    Not the right focus.  Those who want to change change anyway, those that don't don't.  Prison should be a miserable festering hole of loneliness, not an adult education college.

  12. Anonymous says:

    millions of dollars will be spent with the same net result – the gangstas gonna keep being gangstas.  you think a few lessons here and there are somehow going to change 20 years of a certain type of living.  pluuueeeeeaze.  a cockroach is a cockroach is a cockroach.

  13. Simon says:

    The only good idea our leader had was never put forward and that was to have a central prison system with all the islands to reduce cost. I think it is very good.

    • Anonymous says:

      Does this mean they are cutting back on the turkey dinners, cell phones and quality time away from the prison?

    • Anonymous says:

      yeah and law abiding people cant get a decent paycheck much less a scholarship but they get 3 meals a day, medical care and get an education? why not take a trip up north?? hang out and get the same amount of ganja they smoke on the outside and stare into a blackberry just like the Immigration  and Police do!!

    • Anonymous says:

      And it wasn't really that good.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Am glad someone realizes that this is crucial if we are to survive in these islands.

    • Anonymous says:

      Government talks and talks and talks, yet lets see how many jobs they will give these so called "rehabilitated prisoners" .  They will preech on how the public needs to give them jobs….

  15. Anonymous says:

    Hats off to Mourant.  Perhaps we could train some inmates to update the CI Tourism web resources, or teach basic book-keeping to CI Gov't.

  16. Anonymous says:

    If the Cayman Islands Government wants to reduce the amount of repeat offenders entering into the prison system there is one very simple thing that must be done. Turn Hotel Northward into Hell Whole Northward. In my opinion the prisoners here on this island have to many luxuries. For one the prison is air conditioned; there are people on this island who don’t possess this luxury so why should prisoners have air-condition. The only air condition prisoners should receive is that which God provides (natural AC). Next why is it that prisoners have cell phones, television, computers, and CD player privileges? That in its self is some BULL! Prisoners should be locked off from the world unless an approved family member visits on visiting day. Next the food in Northward is better than the food many of us eat on a day to day. Prisoners are receiving better food in prison than they get in the free world…. So why not go back! They should receive something with nutritious value…. But it shouldn’t be extremely enjoyable… I mean they are getting ox tails, beef stew, fish, conch, lobster, and not to mention chicken prepared multiple ways. I believe they should receive chicken on a daily along with two sides (vegitables) un seasoned with a cup of water. And to insure they are getting the nutrition they need, issue them a multiple vitamin with dinner. Last but defiantly not least why in the H&%$ are prisoners allowed to smoke cigarettes in prison. Seriously! I don’t know if those idiots who run the prison realize that cigarettes are also a luxury. If they are allowed to smoke they should be allowed to have a beer or two as well (sarcastically saying). To make a long story short they should bring someone in from a US prison to show them how a prison should run!  

    • Anonymous says:

      The Prison is not airconditioned.  The Chapel is airconditioned, the Correctional Officers offices are airconditioned, the Library is airconditioned, the Education Dept (classrooms) are air conditioned.  But, the Prison itself – the inmates cells – these are not airconditioned. 

    • Castor says:

      Sounds more like retribution and revenge more than rehabilitation. I think that if Anonymous 12:35 spent a month in Northward, a different song would be sung somehow. No one ever does any research into recitivism. It seems to be all anecdotal and not factual.

  17. Anonymous says:

    And they waited until 2012 to do this because…?