Prison rehab “decimated”

| 13/02/2012

Prison gate (232x300)_0.jpg(CNS): A newly published report on the state of the Cayman Islands’ prison system has made more than sixty recommendations on how to address the many problems within the prison system and in particular the growing problem of recidivism. The report, which was commissioned by the Portfolio of Internal and External Affairs and undertaken by the institute of Public Administration of Canada (IPAC) found that the rehabilitation programmes have been "decimated”, leaving what the experts say is a crucial part of the prison system completely neglected. In order to stop the prison revolving door, the experts warn that rehab must be considered equally important as keeping prisoners locked up.

Given that all prisoners will be released (with the exception of those mandated to serve life sentences for murder), the IPAC team said that without proper rehabilitation programmes prisoners are guaranteed to reoffend once they are released and that this element cannot be sacrificed for security and it must be considered equally important.

“Strong and effective leadership for rehabilitation and reintegration is required within the HM Cayman Island Prison Service to embed rehabilitation as a prime purpose of a prison service,” the report stated as it pointed to the pressing need for dedicated leadership in reintroducing proper rehabilitation programmes into the prison system.

The authors recommend that two deputy director roles are created in the system — one to oversee prison operations (the physical security and safety of the prison) and one to oversee rehabilitation programmes that will ensure each prisoner addresses his issues before release in order to reduce the probability of return into the system.

Although the Cayman Islands Prison Service declares in its vision that it aims to provide a safe, secure and controlled environment for both staff and prisoners, is also states that it aims to address offending behaviour, improve education and work skills as it prepares the prisoners for their return to the community.

However, the report found that this part of the vision statement was completely absent as there are no proper rehabilitation programmes for offenders for their behaviour, addictions, anger and violence problems or educational needs. The entire concept of rehab has, the authors say, been sacrificed for security.

“The rehabilitation programs have been decimated. Many stakeholders expressed concern that although there have been a number of good reports completed over the past several years, this did not lead to change.”

More than 85% of the offenders in the Cayman prison system are either alcohol or drug dependent, which has contributed to their offending. The report pointed to a “compelling need” to address the incidence of drug and alcohol addiction within the prison population but there is no drug treatment inside prison.

“Many of these individuals are already repeat offenders whose addiction issues have not been addressed during previous custodial sentences,” the report found. “Many offenders indicated an interest in addiction counselling, and identified it as an important component of rehabilitation.”

The authors said that in other jurisdictions there has been a shift in focus to rehabilitation as they reached a crisis state with their prison populations.

“The Cayman Islands should not wait until they are in a total crisis to make the changes necessary to introduce rehabilitation as a primary focus in their prisons. Incarceration is the means to an end, the end being rehabilitation of prisoners who will contribute to a safer society once released.   Placing safe custody and secure detention as the primary purpose is simply to adopt that the primary purpose of a prison is the simple warehousing prisoners for a fixed period of time.”

Among the myriad issues addressed in the report is the problem of many prisoners having severe mental health problems which are not being addressed and which the report said prison staff were not able to deal with.

Many convicted offenders have mental illness that is not treated while in prison. Often these prisoners also have addiction problems, which also go untreated. “Both the mental illness and the underlying addiction must be treated if there is any expectation that the offender will not re-offend in future.”

Examining proposals for the establishment of a separate Mental Health Court, modelled on the existing Drug Treatment Court, the IPAC team said it didn’t support that recommendation and advised that a specialized integrated court which deals holistically with an offender is a better approach as it pointed to the need to train people in the system to deal with the needs of those with mental health problems.

“All the support services serving the Drug Treatment Court are not trained nor equipped to deal with offenders with mental illness issues so this needs to be addressed through training,” it said.

The report examined the lackof transitional support, especially housing, the neglect of sentence planning until almost the moment of release and the failure to address the education levels of prisoners as well as their skill-sets.

Despite the sentiment in the community that being incarcerated in Northward or Fairbanks was like living in a hotel, the authors noted that after touring both institutions they strongly disagreed and recommended that people see for themselves by visiting the institutions.

“This view, if held, should not become a barrier to establishing a strong, vibrant rehabilitative program in both institutions,” the authors stated.

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Category: Crime

Comments (15)

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  1. A. Pastafarian says:

    Solving the prison problem is as easy as A. B. C.  

    (A)  When a person commits a serious crime, put him in prison.

    (B)   If a prisoner serves his time with no problem, release him. 

    (C)   If he commits another serious crime, execute him.  Problem solved.

    For those of you who are not realists, you can substitute deportation for execution, but that will only delay the inevitable.

  2. R1 says:

    It would be lovely if I had the educational and food benefits like they do in prison. I have been a decent citizen, broke, need an education, and have no money, yet some criminal gets a free ride where he or she can get a degree and become a professional criminal. That is not just not fair. I believe in rehabilitation of character, but I don't believe in free rides. I work my butt off trying to live and walk the law, and here, someone else who has broken the law, get all the attention  and rewards they need to continue with life. Call me envious all you want, the system is screwed up.  

  3. Anonymous says:

    I completely agree with this analysis by the Canadian Institue and acknowledge that both Her Majesty's Prisions need more focus on rehabilitation in Prison!! So….. what does Caribbean Haven do and the Department of Counseling Services.  Haven't they been a revolving door for years with not meeting the peoples needs. But yet the governement continues to fund these programs! In my opinon Caribbean Haven is a homeless shelter and not a rehab center!

  4. Anonymous says:

    First of all, Cayman didn't need to have IPAC write a report for them on the state of the prison system here, as IPAC has no authority to make any such recommendations (I wonder how much that cost???). Cayman SHOULD have turned to the Correctional Service of Canada and see how things are done in Canada. Just as other countries look to Canada (i.e.: Australia and New Zealand) where the justice systems are similar and because those countries have a struggling Aboriginal population that is grossly overrepresented in the penal system (as it continues to mirror in Canada). Cayman could have called me up for my expertise on correctional and rehabilitation advice, given my 12+ years as a public servant, working in the prison system in Canada (with males, females and youth), Community Corrections (halfway houses), mental health sectors and the criminal courts in a social work capacity, working with people who are marginalized by drug/alcohol addictions, illiteracy, metal health and lack of education. Cayman, you have the knowledge and expertise right here on the rock with you (me!). Instead, have some redundant, non-authoritative, networking association tell you what to do. But hey, what do I know?

    • so Anonymous says:

      You know too much but know this,  If Cayman and the Caymanian royalty really wanted to solve any of the many many problems they would then actually do what people like you and the Miller report said.  But then they would not be in total control so they can't.

  5. Anonymous citizen says:

    The police and prison are staffed by who? yet we wonder why things are the way they are and those incharge do absolutely nothing about it. Remember now only Caymanians are corrupt?

  6. Anonymous says:

    Best way to prevent "recidivism" is to never release the criminals, go for third strike and you never get out.

    Supply nooses for those without hope of getting out, to reduce future costs of housing them

    See how fast that reduces crime.

  7. WillYaListen! says:

    Unfortunately we don't have a socialised economy like Canada. Until we do we'll have to make do with treating our criminals as criminals.

    The only alternative is to release them early into the homes of all the Partners/Senior Management of Lawyers,  Bankers,  Accountants,  Architects, Construction companies and anybody else earning over $150,000 per year (bonus excluded) – for the remainder of their original sentence. That would sort them out. Both of them.



  8. Spartacus says:

    Woeful misuse of the word "decimated".

    • Dick Shaugneary says:

      I agree.  It is this type of sloppy English that is a bad influence on youth.  If someone cannot use big words properly they should stick with the little ones.

  9. Anonymous says:

    First I must say that although there is lifers in the Prison, we have others there as of more recently that do not deserve to be out on the streets either unless they are rehabilitated. In fact the Governor should take a good look on some of the lifers that live outside the prison for many years and see the very disciplined way in which they conduct themselves. Then theres one famous one who has been an escapee some times ago that the entire Cayman Islands feel that is innocent. That particular lifer should be looked at at a higher court perhaps, or by the Governor. The Public is much aware of what is going on at the prison. There is at least three lifers that has been there over 20 years, and we understand that the past Governor had planned to look into this matter when there was a very violent crime in the Community and so we guess that he changed his mind, however every situation is different. They should not have to pay for what was done while they are imprisoned. These guys did wrong but they have been punished and are older and more responsible, and they do have familys and feelings.Who mis not punished enough will be punished by God. So our dearest Mr Manderson please, please, look into there situation. Oh and it would be remise of me not to mention Mr Bruce who is so very helpful at the prison, I know that he would rather be home than in Grand Cayman..

  10. Anonymous says:

    It would be nice if they were not getting drugs WHILE they are in prison. Seems to me the security part of the situation has failed in numerous public instances, and  it would be best to get that right as first priority.

    • Anonymous says:

      Unfortunately they will never get it right. Where there is a demand, there will ALWAYS be a supply.