Prison boss quits months after signing new contract

| 22/11/2017 | 48 Comments
Cayman News Service

Prison Director Neil Lavis

(CNS): UPDATED: Neil Lavis, the director of HM Cayman Islands Prison Service, has resigned less than six months after signing a new contract. Ministry officials issued a formal press release, Wednesday, after Lavis handed in his resignation, Monday. The director has not said why he is leaving but confirmed to CNS that it was his choice. It is understood that he plans to leave the island around Christmas time. CNS has contacted the ministry about the unexpected departure and what plans it has for succession at a crucial time for the service but there was no mention in the release about who will fill Lavis’ shoes. 

Thanking the Ministry leaders and staff at HMCIPS as well as public and private sector stakeholders for their support and hard work over the past four years Lavis said,  “My goal as prison director has always been to provide a safe and secure environment for the people of this country, and to ensure the inmates in my care have access to any type of rehabilitation programme and treatment they need to facilitate their return to society and reduce the likelihood that they will reoffend.”

While the Home Affairs chief officer Dax Basdeo thanked Lavis for his serivce. “I believe it is the responsibility of a correctional leader to look after offenders with humanity, help them realise their mistakes and then give them the necessary tools and opportunities to change their life for the better. I believe Mr. Lavis has succeeded in that and has brought positive change to all aspects of the Prison’s operations,” he said.

 Lavis has overseen the implementation of the biggest rehabilitation programme that has ever taken place at HMP Northward, as the new Conditional Release Law begins to impact prisoners. The legislation that was passed last year requires all inmates on sentences longer than 12 months to demonstrate that they have turned their lives around before they can be let out on parole after serving 60% of their time.

Government also increased the budget for the prison service in the latest spending plan to support the roll out of the more comprehensive sentence planning regime at the jail and to continue with improvements to the aging facility.

Lavis took up the post more than four years ago in June 2013 and has presided over some challenging times at the prison, including a jail break in his first month. Since then he has had to contend with staff and funding shortages, overcrowding, internal employment and management scandals, as well as the dramatic removal of two high security prisoners to the UK after the authorities accused the men of orchestrating more crime from their cells at Northward.

Although he has been a persistent advocate for a new modern prison facility, Lavis had also made the best use of his limited resources, engaging inmates in the work to beef up security at the prison and develop new facilities. He has overseen the introduction of a more diverse work and education programme and implemented the restorative justice initiative, the Sycamore Tree Project, where inmates speak with victims of crime, confronting the impact their offending has on the community.

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Category: Crime, Prison

Comments (48)

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  1. Jesse Williams says:

    I have seen directors at that place come and go without doing a damn thing,
    Mr Lavis came with so much vigor and experience from his 30 plus years experience from uk, a man who get things done I was told, I see so much improvements in northward and working with programs and inmates and improvements, he always seems upbeat and committed,
    I think all the politics and foolishness has driven him to this move, I heard he never nearly signed his new contract such was his desire to leave, a Rotarian and always saw him with his kids at soccer and always had a good word,
    I really wonder what those rotten management really want up there. They must drive people away it seem.

    If they didn’t want this man in charge then tell me this?

    What do they want? Do they even know what they want?

    I don’t believes it would find a better man than the current chief.

    Well done mr Lavis I’m glad you no longer waste your time up there with the cancers.

  2. Da Mulers YP Block says:

    Drug shipments will definately increase now gatekeeper quit!

  3. Narcisso Clarke says:

    Northward Criminal network & Drug business back online Boys!!!!!

  4. Anonymous says:

    In the interest of the Prison Service they should have given him a contract for five years at least. Considering the service he has given and the overall positive comments about him another five years of his service to include training his replacement would have certainly made sense.

    Maybe it’s not too late to do the right thing.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Pension? Deadline is November 30

    • Anonymous says:

      Nope. Government ex-pat employees don’t have to worry about that. They aren’t subject to the same rules as the rest of us. They can get their pensions out whenever they leave! Another example of government looking after their own but the hell with everyone else.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Well, he sure has more than enough job openings and opportunities in his field back home because … damn, that is one heck of a chaotic, broken and uncontrollable prison system.

    Makes one wonder the wisdom in hiring a “professional” from a country with such a failing record.

    Don’t trust (or hate on) lil’ ol’ me though. Research the stats and headlines for yourselves.

    – Whodatis

    • Anonymous says:

      I trust all who take offence to the above are equally appalled by all other examples of speculative and discriminatory comments in this thread.

      Although, the comments have already proven this to not be the case.

      Let us see what the wave of updated posts reveals.

      – Who

    • Anonymous says:

      Phew, thank goodness for the voice of reason.

    • Fred the Piemaker says:

      You are always quick to decry attacks based on Caymanians simply because they are Caymanian, yet here you are suggesting he was a bad hire not because of anything he has done or failed to do, but because of the country he comes from? Why don’t you instead point out exactly how it is you think his performance was substandard? Go on – prove you are better than the other posters who conflate origin with performance.

      • Anonymous says:

        …have you gotten it yet?

        – Who

      • S Brown says:

        The country Lavis comes from has the poorest record of prison success. Therefore, one may conclude that he did not come with special gifts for innovative best practice skills and know how.

        Who builds a $2 000 000 prison perimeter when the prison accommodation is condemned.

        The most drugs in the history of Northward, came over that wall.

        Clearly, those speaking of success is not considering the goal of the prison – well it’s Public Safety – and how does a prison service achieve same? Not by those means.

        So, in my view Lavis came and did some work because that’s what he was paid to do. He did what he was accustomed doing.

        So all this business of hating on others is not serving the public – trust that people can support Public Safety – because when it’s not safe we all are affected.

    • Anonymous says:

      I’d be astonished if you’ve done any “research” of the “stats and headlines” yourself (whatever that means anyway). But hell, it sounds good to imply you have.

      One of the many problems with these posts is that they encourage know-all-know-nothings to hint at wisdom and knowledge they obviously never had in the first place.

  7. Anonymous says:

    So when Inspector Bean left early because he was pushed out we had to pay him through the end of his contract. What happens in this case where a 3-year contract (commitment) is not being honoured?

    • Not the OP says:

      1 months notice. Standard contract terms. (Could have probably worked on Insp. Bean if they had done it right.)

  8. Anonymous says:

    poison chalice of a job…. feel sorry for him but what do you expect from a largely local workforce…

    • Anonymous says:

      Largely status holders via Jamaica.

    • Anonymous says:

      Local workforce? Don’t think so. Jam rock dominated.

      • Cayman Sabotaged says:

        Yes 11:52pm and that serves as a reminder why things will never ever get better in these islands and why crime will only continue to increase and get more violent we are not changing them they are changing our entire society and it definately aint for the better.

    • Anonymous says:

      Actually, most of the workforce at that institution originally comes from elsewhere. It is unfair to blame Caymanians for any cultural issues at that institution.

      • Anonymous says:

        Yes it is. They should take the jobs there instead of sitting down constantly complaining.

  9. Anonymous says:

    This happens at CIG all too often! The powers want “yes men / women” and as soon as someone with integrity stands up for what is right and just….out they go!
    The amount of resources CIG wastes on recruitment and then loss of personnel due to powers that have no business at the top, is staggering!

    • Anonymous says:

      Agree, if compromising your ethics is not a problem then you’ll fit right in. However if you want to upset the corrupt status quo the door will hit you hard your way out. That how it go!

  10. Anonymous says:

    From the outside, it appears that this man was doing a great job turning things around. He also advocated for a new facility to make things more humane and secure. I guess he got tired of ramming his head into a brick wall whenever he presented his ideas to the higher ups who only operate on political energy. This is Cayman and the Regressives are in charge.

    • Not the OP says:

      If that were the case then he wouldn’t have re-signed a few months ago.

    • S Brown says:

      All the prison Directors advocated for more humane facilities. This is not rocket science.

      Reports upon reports recommended new facilities. To no avail.

      Maybe you all may need to start behaving and thinking like residents of this beautiful island as opposed to cursing each other.

      When you come here it’s no longer about your colour, nationality etc – maybe you want to contribute to the improvement of this island.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Probably got a better offer elsewhere

  12. wawa says:

    please don’t get a jamacian in charge

    • Anonymous says:


      • Just saying says:

        Then why arenthe Jamaicans fighting so hard against the Chinese who are taking over Jamaica….stay current with your own news…#EverydayJamaicakindhatredforCaymankindRacism

        • Anonymous says:

          I suppose I would “hate”, in the ghaslty colloquial sense, those that are racist. I believe one “hates on”, is that right?

  13. Anonymous says:

    What about, $100,000 pension, smart move I’d say…

  14. MM says:

    Sad day for the prison service…

    • Chris Johnson says:

      Sorry to see him go. He did much for the prisoners and was a dedicated Rotarian with limited time, who took it upon himself to seek help from Rotarians on various prison projects. He was an innovator and a great asset to our community. He will be sorely missed.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Doesn’t his wife work in the private sector? So, pension drives another one out? And they said it would have no impact.

  16. Anon says:

    Pension money!

    • Anonymous says:

      Doesn’t apply to government workers anyway.

      • Anon says:

        Doesn’t matter. That cash will disappear into CIG coffers , anyone not getting out and cashing out before the deadline is as good as kissing their money goodbye, private sector or gov is irrelevant

  17. Anonymous says:

    Sad, on you just have to suspect political interference

  18. Anonymous says:

    As I predicted months ago! He lasted long!! Bet he realized that it wasn’t worth losing his integrity for all the dirt under the rug!

  19. anonymous says:

    Well a sad day for Cayman as he did a good job without bias…..lets see what happens next!

  20. Anonymous says:

    What have those people done to chase this one off?

  21. Fred the Piemaker says:

    3 months in to a new contract, and he gives a months notice? Yeah, that sounds normal!

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