Prison rehab pilot project expanding

| 20/02/2019 | 8 Comments
Cayman News Service

Prison inmates participate in roadside clean-up

(CNS): A third prisoner from HMP Northward who is coming to the end of his sentence has joined the Department of Environmental Health’s garbage collection team as part of a joint project of the DEH and HM Cayman Islands Prison Service to place inmates in jobs. Last year the two agencies signed a memorandum of understanding aimed at filling gaps in the collection service due to ongoing manpower problems while also supporting the rehabilitation of low-risk prisoners. In December two inmates were placed on the pilot programme for a five- to six-week period, which officials said went well.

That initial stage was assessed in January on the basis of partner feedback, effort and participation by existing prisoners, as well as their continued engagement with efforts to test them ahead of release or presentation to the conditional release board.

Following that review, “the two agencies agreed on a way forward for their partnership”, government officials said in a press release Tuesday.

Acting DEH Director Richard Simms said the two inmates who took part in the pilot have proven to be exceptional workers.

“They assimilated well with the other staff, and their presence lessened the impact when others were on vacation or sick leave,” he said. “As part of their rehabilitation, and to inspire them going forward, we would like to be able hire them full-time. This will depend on whether positions become available and their performance in the recruitment process.”

The initiative involves risk-assessed inmates who are within six months of their release or an appearance before the Conditional Release Board. Prisoners are selected based on their response to custody, and their efforts to engage with rehabilitative programmes. The aim is to help inmates due to be released who demonstrate the necessary attitude and work ethic to get full-time job offers before they leave prison.

Director of Prisons Steve Barrett said that one of the most challenging issues for people leaving prison is finding work, which impacts Cayman’s high recidivism rates.

“Finding employment following release from prison has been recognised as a factor in determining whether or not someone is likely to reoffend and return to prison,” he said. “We also know that prisoners who have worked whilst in custody are more likely to be in employment shortly after their release.”

The inmates are supervised by the DEH but prison officers also make frequent, random visits to observe them at work. Both departments have designated managers overseeing the day-to-day operation of the programme. The two agencies have plans to expand the programme and Barrett said he was looking to other government departments that deliver essential social services that might want to partner up.

In addition to this programme, some inmates on Release on Temporary Licence (ROTL) are involved in community placements through initiatives in the private sector, such as the ‘Fresh Start’ programme, which is a flagship partnership with collaborators, The Phoenix Group, Encompass Cayman and Clan Construction.

Barrett said one prisoner currently on placement as a trainee chef at a prestigious Seven Mile Beach hotel has just been named as that organisation’s Employee of the Month.

The prison service also offers direct supervision community placements to undertake local beautification projects such as road cleaning. A recently completed initiative was the creation of a community park in West Bay.

Home Affairs Minister Tara Rivers, who is responsible for the prison system, said the ministry was keen to develop more partnerships that helps both parties.

“The government is keen to extend the range and diversity of community placement partnerships as we genuinely believe such opportunities contribute to reducing future reoffending,” she said. “We are particularly supportive of partnerships with organisations like DEH who see the importance of what the prison service is trying to achieve and have been willing to offer their support.”

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Category: Crime, Crime Prevention, Prison

Comments (8)

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  1. Ring the Dell Down says:

    I see DEH is slowly beginning to come from under the very dark cloud it was put under by the last dreamer and looser and his cohorts I applaud its efforts as this type of outreach would surely never have happen under his mediocre leadership.

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  2. Anonymous says:

    Great work Director Barrett, keep it up

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  3. Sucka Free Cayman says:

    Well anon 2:15 and 3:19pm aleast we know where and what they are convicted of. Too many criminals here now that we know nothing about in govt & private sector jobs

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  4. Anonymous says:

    I’m shocked I don’t see people in orange jumpsuits cleaning trash along the roads and beaches. The government paying people to beautify the island each year is ridiculous and should be done 24×7 with non dangerous inmates and other people who’ve committed a crime or traffic offense. Is there even community service or is that only reserved for expats looking to gain pr?

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  5. Second chances says:

    Well done – doing this type of job tells a lot about a persons work ethics and willingness to get back up after falling. I wish them all the best!

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  6. Anonymous says:

    Why they wasting their time with garbage collection? Tell them must call Ezzard and get lined up as an Air Traffic Controller instead.

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