Prison fails on rehab

| 21/09/2009

(CNS): Despite the fact that the prison management system was supposedly overhauled more than three years ago in order to focus on rehabilitation and the reduction of recidivism rates, the latest report on the Cayman prison system has revealed that it is still failing when it comes to rehabilitating prisoners. The authors of the most recent review said there are a number of gaps in achieving offender outcomes and weaknesses in the current programmes which are concerned with rehabilitation, especially given that most prisoners will be let out into the community at some point.

The report by Orren Merren (above) with support from the FCO’s Regional Overseas Territories Prison Adviser, Stephen Fradley, was commissioned by Governor Stuart Jack in the wake of the killing of Sabrina Schirn in May of this year. Schirn’s body was found close to Wilderness Farm, the prison’s external agricultural facility in East End. Randy Martin, a category C prisoner, has been charged with her murder.

In the report Orren recommends that the farm be closed because he states that the risks of using a facility so far from the prison are not outweighed by its rehabilitation value, which he said was severely limited.

“There are frankly too many risks and not enough benefits,” writes Orren. “The farm is too far from HMP Northward in the event of any incident needing a prompt response from other Prison Officers.” He noted that the vast expanse offered too many areas in which to hide and too many opportunities “for prisoners to abscond, cultivate illegal crops for use or sale, or worse.”

He noted that any benefits realised at the Wilderness Farm can be more easily obtained and more effectively managed nearer to Northward, and Orren criticized the idea that horticultural experience gained by prisoners was of much benefit to them. Orren noted that prisoners need access to real training opportunities to enable them to become employable citizens, and his report notes that the system has failed to created suitable rehabilitation programmes.

The Cayman Islands has one of the highest prisoner populations worldwide when measured in terms of prisoners per general population and has traditionally suffered high recidivism rates. Orren noted that 40% of prisoners do not participate in sentence planning, which means that they are being released unconditionally, without any interventions while in prison and with no conditions to require continued rehabilitation support when re-integrating back into society. 

As a result Orren has recommended the prison introduces a rehabilitation plan which every prisoner gets by default, even if they choose not to participate. “Rather than voluntary participation in a sentencing plan… there should be a Basic Rehabilitation Plan that every prisoner gets by default,” he stated, and added that the goal would be too have each prisoner take part in his own Enhanced Rehabilitation Plan.

He lamented the fact that at present the eligibility for certain privileges within the prison system, such as Category C and D prisoners working outside the prison on work release, is not defined and there are no set requirements. “It is not currently required that a prisoner be drug-free and meeting the objectives of … sentence planning to beconsidered for all such privileges.”

Orren recommend that prisoners should be satisfactorily meeting the objectives of their Enhanced Rehabilitation Plan, be routinely tested and found drug-free before enjoying work outside the prison walls.

Orren also noted that high priority should be given to establishing an Employability Development Board chaired by the Education Coordinator at HMP Northward or by another suitable senior prison manager to help prisoners find work. “Suitable representation from those who can speak to the needs and interests of potential employers should be regarded as vital to the success of this board,” he reported.

“A key aim of the Employability Development Board should be to consider skills, aptitude, training and other assessments relative to each prisoner’s Enhanced Rehabilitation Plan being considered and reviewed from time to time, with a view to maximising each prisoner’s employability and to assisting each prisoner who is eligible and suitable to obtain and maintain meaningful employment opportunities outside the prison.”

The report also made a number of other criticisms and stated that the present hiring and promotions freeze now affecting HMCIPS had constrained the ability of HMCIPS to train officers properly. It also said the Security Classification of prisoners into categories ranging from Category A (maximum supervision) to Category D (low supervision) should be revised and improved.  Orren also criticised the way that local rehabilitation and educational programmes have been undermined and forced out of the system because of decisions and delays by the prison’s own policies. “Unfortunately, the Prison Programmes Approval Panel has to date served more as an obstacle to rather than facilitator of such access to meaningful work experience outside the prisons.” 

However, the report made no mention of one of the fundamental problems facing the prison population at large, which is the alarmingly high illiteracy rates. According to the Cayman Islands Reading Aides, which has in the past been the only organisation holding literacy classes inside both Fairbanks and Northward, found well over 80% of prisoners had basic literacy and numeracy problems.

Orren, however, made it very clear that rehabilitation was fundamental and important not just to the prisoners but to society at large. “When faced with the reality that most prisoners will be released some day, the costs and risks from non-rehabilitation … far outweigh the costs and risks that a prisoner could abscond or offend while working outside the prison,” he wrote. He lamented the fact that prisoners returning unrehabilitated into dysfunctional family systems and into cohort groups of friends and associates with their largely negative influences was a key contributor to re-offending.

He also noted that while the prison farm served no real beneficial purpose, he emphasised the need not to close down other outside work programmes which could be beneficial to the future of offenders and help them stay out of prison. “The risks that a prisoner may abscond or offend while working outside the prison…need to be balanced against the benefits to the prisoner and to society as a whole by allowing a prisoner meaningful work release experience as a part of his Rehabilitation Plan,” Orren stated. 

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  1. Anonymous says:

    We need to get the prison officers out of the white uniforms and dress them in dark overalls.

    They look more like Bankers than Prison guards.

    And just wait until shift change. They break every traffic law getting as far away from the prison as they can.

  2. Anonymous says:

    The person that wrote that about Carlo’s funeral you really need to get a life! Instead you showing respect to the family and let Carlo rest in peace ,you are listening to hear say, that’s what wrong with cayman today. I have been to the funeral and the FUNERAL was not anywhere Gangsta. If you never been to the funeral why put something on the internet so disrespectful. You say live by the sword die by the sword if you didn’t notice life is short and you need to stop watchin people  and watch your life cause you can blink and your life is over. So please watch what you say!!! Gosh!!

  3. Anonymous says:

    ***my last comment got lost. I will try this again.

    I will admit, I posted the comment about Sheriff Arpaio. Isn’t that a lovely idea, or should I say, dream? If only this could work in every case.

    Truth is, there is no one solution for rehabilitation or recidivism. Google: . then scroll down a click on the 10 deadliest gangs. ***the prison site has pix and a youtube video tour of one of California prison’s.

    The U.S. claims at least 4-5 spots for both.

    Because there are human rights attached to prisoners, and laws that pertain to treatment, this is a tough call.

    Personally, I think the next best thing would probably be a strong network support system by family and friends.

  4. Anonymous says:


    Not connected to this except in criminality (alleged) but could we have some news from you on the four Caymanians arrested in the US for gun running? See today’s Compass. That’s a huge story that must not be swept under the "our crimewave is foreign caused" carpet.

    CNS: We’re not ignoring the story – Wendy did in fact spend a lot of time looking into it, but some of these investigations need more resources and time than we can manage. If you want to see CNS grow, read this and spread the word.

  5. Anonymous says:

    The saddest thing about this story is the lack of interest in it by CNS readers!  Meanwhile everybody is on about cutting Civil Servants (did you see what was said here about Prison Officer needs?!) and the whole expat vs. Caymanian argument in relation to Mr. McField’s article.  Too many of us just want to be nasty to eachother.  Why don’t you all migrate your behinds over to this page and make a meaningful contribution that will benefit the youth of this country…. oh I guess I just answered my own question!

  6. Anonymous says:

    clap clap clap to Anonymous 9/21/2009 8:34.  Government turns a blind eye and then expects that saying that those working to support the prisoners and that abide by the law ..wont be paid?

    Cayman’s Hilton Hotel ( the Prison) is the only one in the world that hosts all the amneties listed on their "book your room now brochure" ( I refer to our laws).

    We provide hot meals, on permise gym, access to your drug of choice, internet access, designer clothing and accessories (free to you). Book now,stay as long as you like.


    We need to stop being blind to these issues.  It is not something that we do not have the power to change –

    We have many requirements for workpermits(Expats) and passports(Caymanian and status holders).  Add fingerprinting to these requirements.  Expats are required to take blood tests for the safety of our community, why not ask for fingerprints for the safety of our community? 

    A person found guilty of a crime – (expats) should be sent to serve their time in their country, not at the expense of Cayman.  They should be banned from returning.  If they must serve their time here then once released it should be only with their passport and their ticket back to their country.  Sell whatever valuable they have in order to pay for their ticket.  Our government should then send details of their arrest to home country of the prisoners to make them aware. 

    Caymanians found guilty should be forced to work…..have them dig the trenches that are costing Govt, Lime, Water Authority overtime costs.  Have them plant mangroves to rebuild our natural barriers. 




    • Anonymous says:

      I’d be more than willing to submit my fingerprints for a crime database. It’s done in many other countries for visitors upon entry, and I see no reason why it couldn’t be implemented here. You’d probably have some difficulty in sending expats away to serve time for crimes committed in Cayman (considering they wouldn’t have committed a crime on their home soil), but you can certainly deport them for major offenses. As for hard labour, absolutely! If you break the laws of society you may as well serve the public by digging ditches and breaking a sweat on other public works projects as penance for your actions. Maybe it will teach some responsibility to actually work off your "debt" to society, under strict supervision of course.

    • Anonymous says:

      Most of the people committing these crimes are Caymanians thank you!

  7. Johnny Cake wid a cup of coffey(e) says:

    I do strongly agree that the rehab efforts of our prison is weak.  Prisoners with drug problems claim they can get it.  Clearly this is an issue at our prison.

    Then we as a community need to accept that we have a part to play in this.  That is, giving people a chance to get their footing back.  If to get a paiting job requires a clean police record how are they to re-integrate?  To address this problem, there may need to be a hard look at time-spent legislation to see if it is comparable to other countries.  Our prisoners need to know that there is hope at the end of the tunnel…at least for those that truly is repentant and is looking to start again.  If not, we set ourselves up for them reoffending.  No money, no job or chances for one, a possible family and very little hope for forgiveness can only breed resentment and a harden heart to doing what is right.

    There is surely no suggestion here to reward criminals for thier choices; however what i am saying is that we should not continue to punish after they have served time.  Certainly a better balance needs to be struck.

    I believe if we tighten the screws on those that want to reap or continue to not conform to the laws of the land.  Equally, there needs to be strong incentives or a loosening of those screws – a carrot(s) for clearly demonstrating a willing to do so.  There is really no middle ground here.  The further apart these screws are they better chance we have a win-win situation.

    Oh and to achieve this we may need to be creative and come up with our own plan.  Sees what works best for us.  Not necessarily suggesting a reinvention of the perverbial wheel but the UK models has been missing a few spokes for quite some time now.  Lets try something new.

  8. Anonymous says:

    google: Behind the Walls at Arizona’s "Hell on Earth" Tent City Jail-Mixx***Black/White Stripes uniforms, Mandatory Pink Underwear chain Gangs, No Cigarettes – meet America’s toughest Sheriff Joe Arpaio. BTW, the inmates eat green meat.

  4 min 42 sec. chain gang

    ***note, there was just one riot, and after the prisoners talked to the Sheriff, everything calmed down.

    • Anonymous says:

      I agree with many of the principles of this institution and the governor behind it all. Rather than focusing on rehabilition, they focus on discouraging the prisoners from wanting to go back.

      We all know that the prisoners are treated too well up at Northward and spend their days lounging, smoking weed and watching flat screen tv and playing playstation in their air conditioned luxury suites. This is a better life than they had outside. Plus they get 3 chef cooked meals a day and don’t have to work. Why would they want to leave?

      That’s why the thugs don’t fear getting caught for their crimes, because they know they’ll get a free holiday. The shooter at next level had no fear shooting somebody in the face in front of 150 people, because he firstly knew that they were all cowards and wouldn;t name him anyway, secondly he knew that even if they did find out he did it, the police would  probably ‘lose’ or bungle the evidence or he would have cousins in high up places thatwould get him off on a technicality. The worst case scenario would be a life of luxury at Northward courtesy of us tax payers slaving away to subsidise his ass.

      Prisoners in Arizona are $hit scared of being sent to tent city so that is a real threat.

      Prisoners in Cayman don’t want to be rehabilitated. They only take part in day release activities to get a few hours smoking weed and meeting up with their girlfriends.

      All kids leaving school without at least 6 GCSEs at grade C or above should be either offered a modern apprenticeship in vaiour trades or put into boot camps where they are trained to do various trades, depending on what was relevant at the time, whether it be building, farming, fishing, finance or whatever. Kids should know that it is not acceptable to leave school without some sort of qualifications. OK they may not be geniuses or good at English, Maths and Science, but they could still leave school and get into a professional trade.

      The kids have got to know it is not acceptable to behave like gangsters and live without respect for anybody and blame their behaviour on everybody else, expats, weather, etc

      • Anonymous says:

        I agree. We spend millions re-habilitating expats who we are going to deport. That does not seem like a good investment to me.