Jobs for ex-inmates forms part of prison plan

| 23/01/2013

Compound.jpg(CNS): Without a job to go to when inmates are released from prison their chances of re-offending are extremely high but the prison is finally making more comprehensive moves to try and address the long standing issue for Cayman’s ex-offenders. The owners, managers and directors of local businesses such as Kirk Home Centre, Solomon Harris, McAlpine, Comfort Suites and Burger King, as well as The Bridge Foundation have teamed up with government officials on the Fresh Start Committee, a programme for the employment of ex-offenders that will begin as soon as a prisoner is convicted and sentenced. With recidivism rates extremely high in Cayman the need to address ex-offender unemployment is critical to crime reduction.

The Committee is already exploring means by which offenders can be re-introduced to employment and the committee’s chair, Charles Jennings, a former lawyer said the mission is to raise awareness about the benefits that are possible when employing ex-prisoners and to emphasise to employers the need for a change of mind-set among staff and customers.

“Our job will be to introduce prisoners to the world of work and all that that implies, and to reach out to businesses to see who can be placed where,” said Jennings. “We have no illusions about how successful this will be and we’re going to take it one step at a time.  We realise that in all cases it’s a matter of ‘horses for courses’. But we also maintain that if society never tries to reintegrate former inmates in a planned and structured way, these problems will continue, and indeed multiply, forever.”

The Fresh Start approach is both security-based and clinical, and will start with a pilot programme in March.  Each participating inmate will be assessed by the prison’s psychologist, who joins the staff that month, and a tailored treatment regime will then be developed for that inmate. This will include factors such as behaviour modification, assessment of educational and vocational capacities and needs, as well as determining drug abuse treatments and the inmate’s mental health.

The pilot will focus on employability and skills, from an inmate’s first day behind bars until the time he is released. Officials said that each inmate will be allocated an actual job while incarcerated alongside a relevant treatment plan. The goal is to help inmates cope with the challenges of living and working in a small community upon release.

The acting prison director said that there have already been some successes in the rehabilitation of offenders.

“To counter the very unforgiving attitudes in society, the many success stories have to be told,” Daniel Greaves said. “It’s great that we now have credible members of society to champion the cause of facilitating the employment of prisoners. At the same time, the inmates also need more discipline and purposeful activity, to keep up with the expectations of society.” 

The Committee is focusing on how to implement the recommendations of the 2012 report of the Institute of Public Administration of Canada (IPAC) which was commissioned by the Cayman Islands Government. Public sector officials said the inclusion of the private sector and the wider public was considered key to addressing recommendations surrounding rehabilitation.

The IPAC Report states: “As financial pressures increase on governments, opportunities for public/private partnerships are an important area to explore, particularly in areas that contribute to the goals of rehabilitation. Private stakeholders… recognize that it is a key component of the crime prevention strategy and they are committed to increased safety in their community.”

It goes on to suggest a community-employment programme that would enable the private sector to not only champion the cause, but also grow it into a broader national plan for crime prevention and rehabilitation.

Participating public sector agencies include the Governor’s Office, the Department of Community Rehabilitation, the Prison Service and the Portfolio of Internal and External Affairs as well as the National Workforce Development Agency (formerly the Department of Employment Relations).

Acting Deputy Prison Director, Aduke Joseph-Caesar is also co-chair of the Fresh Start committee who emphasised the science behind the initiative and the prisoner’s tailored plans.  “We hope to achieve positive re-entry into society using our new philosophy,” she said adding that there was a need for mutual trust in the process.

 

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Category: Crime

Comments (12)

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  1. Anon says:

    Just a bit ironic that jobs will be given to ex-cons, whilst honest people will be passed over.

    • noname says:

      Well its about time. Curious to see this at work or is it just lip service once again.

      Why not use them to keep the streets clean as an arm of public works/

      Why not use them as mechanics where people can get their cars repaired at a low cost price.

      How about manufacturing clothing, arts and crafts, and selling it to the tourists with 'MADE IN CAYMAN" engrafted on the products for a change!

      HOW ABOUT ordering them to attend church regularly and reporting to a local pastor who can begin to mentor them?

      How about using them in construction to build budget homes and other low cost housing

      to cut greatly the cost  government expendutures.

      Terminate as many work permits as possible to make room for these people.

      How about government starting farms in each and every district, and begin to produce fruits and vegetables to supply the   island with?

      There is so much that can be achieved if one just has a brain to sit down and plan properly how tokeep these guys busy and off the streets. It can be done Prove to us that this is real and not just talk.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Would ANYONE beleive that the Cayman Probation Services does not include job placements/transition?!

    Wow!

  3. That I know says:

    Its a good incentive but…I would never give them a job on my company!!!!!!!
    Once a gangsta always a gangsta!

  4. Anonymous says:

    I doubt anything comes of it.  As with everything in the Cayman Islands, it's all show, smoke and mirrors…

  5. Co-Chair, Fresh Start Committee says:

    To clarify, each private sector member of the Fresh Start Committee was selected because he/she represents a specific area of the sector. The fact that they are senior figures in the businesses named in this article does not mean that those businesses are more or less likely to participate in the programme than any other businesses on island. These just happen to be knowlegeable people who are kind enough to give up a good deal of their time to try to make the project a success. If anyone else has any constructive suggestions in this field, please call me. My name’s in the book. Charles Jennings.

  6. Lorna Bush says:

    I am very happy to read this and offer congratulations to all involved with the FRESH START initiative.  My concern is that perhaps some young persons who are unemployed and becoming disillusioned may now entertain the thought of getting to Northward Prison where they will receive technical/vocational training and then possible employment opportunities through FRESH START.  However, this is a very good move for those who are ALREADY in the penal system.

    Now Government and the private sector need to give support to the preventative programmes such as the COMMUNITY VOCATIONAL TRAINING CENTRE, where we try to rescue the unemployed youth BEFORE they enter the court/prison system.  This programme has now been tried and is proving to be very successful.  Training and Certification has been provided in Electrical Apprenticeships, Air-conditioning and Plumbing, along with soft skills such as Resume Writing, Customer Care, Preparation for the Interview, Business Etiquette, etc.

    The programme did receive a grant in 2012 of $40,000 from the Premier's Nation Building Fund and from that were able to present  41 certificates of achievement to 37 successful learners.  Unfortunately an overwhelmingly large percentage of those funds had to be used to pay facilities rental but nevertheless, with some help from the private sector and many professionals volunteering time and expertise, we were able to achieve extraordinary results.

    Now the CVTC is ready to resume with its second cohort and needs financial assistance.  We sincerely trust that there are those in our community who realise that "an ounce of preventiion is worth a pound of cure."

  7. Anonymous says:

    Good move, I pray that what is planned will work out.  These persons do need the confidence and security of knowing they can make an honest living if they are truly trying to turn a new leaf.

  8. Anonymous says:

    I can't believe that none of the Real Estate companies are involved. That seems like a perfect business for ex-prisoners.

  9. Frank says:

    "The owners, managers and directors of local businesses such as Kirk Home Centre, Solomon Harris, McAlpine, Comfort Suites and Burger King:" – I applaud these companies for their effort in assisting with this, however i am curious to see whether these companies will actually participate in the hiring of the ex-cons (with the exception of Solomon Harris where i'm sure this is not possible). The companies hiring the ex-cons will demonstrate that they are interested in the future of these people and not just using this programme as a marketing ploy.

  10. Anonymous says:

    This is a welcome improvement. The kind of policy and public plan that has been needed for a long time.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Most people are paroled early. Make taking and keeping one of these jobs a condition of parole.