CIG makes plans to take on ex-offenders

| 31/05/2016 | 21 Comments
Cayman News Service

Government Administration Building

(CNS): The government is working on a new policy that will set out guidelines on employing people with a criminal record. Although the Public Works Department and the Department of Environmental Health have historically employed former offenders, not many other core government departments, companies and statutory authorities have been so welcoming. But with the passage of the Conditional Release Law, prisoners eligible for release will need jobs in order to get out of jail early and to keep them from returning.

The lack of employment chances for ex-cons is a significant cause of Cayman’s high recidivism rates, and there are now concerns that the new law, which is focused on rehabilitation, will not work unless former inmates can find jobs, making things worse for the prison and the community.

With prisoners now expected to serve 60% of any term in excess of 12 months before they can be considered for release, inmate numbers and costs for the already over-crowded jail could soar if prisoners due for parole cannot get work and have to remain until their sentence is served.

Premier Alden McLaughlin, the home affairs minister responsible for the prison budget, who steered the new bill through parliament, has called on the private sector to offer work to former prisoners who have gone through a rehabilitation process. But government cannot ask the private sector to take on ex-cons if it is not also prepared to given them a chance itself.

Deputy Governor Franz Manderson, who is in charge of public sector employment, told CNS that he is now considering a draft policy on how former inmates can become civil servants. He said the policy, once finalised, will ensure that the Cayman Islands Government complies with the principle of being a good employer while undertaking not to unfairly discriminate against people with a criminal record.

The draft policy document covers issues such as how to decide when it is appropriate to appoint an ex-offender to a post, under what circumstances and the level of disclosure expected about spent convictions. It also calls for staff in government to be trained to identify and assess the circumstances and relevance of criminal offences. Manderson explained that once an offender is recruited to the Cayman Islands Government, they will be treated like any other civil servant.

Before that point however, the policy will set out the guidelines for the objective consideration and collection of the information about candidates with criminal records and how it will inform recruitment decisions. Questions will have to be considered about the relevance of an offence to a position, the safety of co-workers, the length of time since the offence and the history of offending, and recruiters will need to consider the situation carefully where the job entails working with children or vulnerable adults.

Former offenders will not automatically be given work with government as a result of the policy but it will create more opportunities for ex-prisoners to turn their lives around. Common sense judgments will need to be made: former white-collar criminals are unlikely to get work with access to cash or accounts but could prove to be excellent workers in areas where they are working with figures without touching the money.

The draft policy points to the fact that no two offences are exactly alike and risk assessments will be an important part of the consideration. The policy will also ensure civil service managers consider all relevant laws before recruiting a person with a criminal record.

Resolving Cayman’s revolving prison door is an important factor. During Monday’s delivery of the budget, Finance Minister Marco Archer revealed that around half a million dollars more will go to community rehabilitation over the next 18 months to help prisoners meet the requirements of the new law and get out of jail.

However, the premier revealed that money has also been set aside for a comprehensive business case to either refurbish or rebuild B-Wing, one of the worst buildings at HMP Northward. Although it has been condemned for years, the wing still houses the most prisoners in appallingly cramped conditions, creating tensions for both inmates and staff.

McLaughlin said his government plans to develop a livestock and agriculture programme at the prison, which would not only help feed the prison population, but would “hopefully give inmates the skills and interest to continue in these endeavours when they leave prison”.

Government has engaged Price WaterhouseCoopers to produce an outline business case for a new court-house to cover the existing and future needs of the court, the premier announced. He said the new facility would need to include appropriate security features, adequate facilities to accommodate mediation and other tribunal services and complex large-scale trials. He said the design would reflect the needs of third-party court-house users, which include jurors, counsel, other government agencies and members of the public.

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Category: Crime, Prison

Comments (21)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Send them back to Jamaica or Honduras as majority will have a least one parent from that country and since we’re employing Jamaicans at an alarming rate, start sending some back to reap benefits of wages and remittances to Jamaicans, plus they have physical land space.

    Maybe they could build a community where Mac’s great-great grandfather was from?

  2. Anonymous says:

    Brilliant! This ranks right up there with Mac’s plan to build his own “home guard” army. Can’t wait to see how well this works out.

  3. Paulette says:

    Thank you DG this is most welcomed..

  4. Anonymous says:

    Does this mean that Joey will be able to run again?

  5. Anonymous says:

    Can’t we somehow do what the UK did and ship the criminals elsewhere? The Australians – UK criminals – seemed to do well once they were forced to take care of themselves.

    • Anonymous says:

      All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
      Forgive…ask forgiveness and love thy neighbor as thyself.
      How big are we? Do we love Jesus whom we have never seen?
      And never forget….Love, Godly unconditional…Love………covers…….a…multitude…of sins.
      Hate is a sin that Love loves to cover.
      XO

    • Anonymous says:

      The Brac seems the obvious answer and would be a fairer quid pro quo for all the handouts they take.

  6. Anonymous says:

    civil service = one big social welfare programme….

  7. Anonymous says:

    Pressure needs to be increased on the private sector to do more -in particular in construction and similar fields. Immigration?

    • Anonymous says:

      Agreed , when I was in business I made efforts to employ assist and mentor ex cons. We all have a responsibility to help our community.

    • Anonymous says:

      Give me one reason the private sector should do more hiring EX-CONS…not my problem they raped, robbed, killed, sold drugs to name a few…why should I as a law abiding citizen take that type of a chance. Let government hire all of the ex cons, there are enough jobs that CIG can provide….DOE, CI AG, Post office, janitorial, to name a few. All government departments who hire work permit holders!!!! Government never helped my family when we needed it when we were being victimized by criminals…..

      • Anonymous says:

        Ok. Here is a reason. Unless you give people a reasonable opportunity to get back on the straight and narrow, and earn an honest income, they will be forced to earn a dishonest one – and you will be the first complaining about crime.

  8. Anonymous says:

    That is simply unfair to the offenders. They are trying to move on from their criminal activities. How are they supposed to do that surrounded by the looting free-for-all that is the CIG?

  9. Anonymous says:

    Everyone needs a second chance in life! Bracka

  10. Anonymous says:

    “The lack of employment chances for ex-cons is a significant cause of Cayman’s high recidivism rates” Really. The converse proposition sounds much more likely, the likelihood of re-offending is why they are not employed and that is their problem for being criminals. Rehabilitation rates are so so low because people are wired that way and a whole industry has gown up pushing a liberal agenda that somehow these criminals can change their ways. Locking them up for longer, especially the younger ones, is a much more efficient policy for society as a whole.

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