Prison expands education for inmates

| 06/05/2019 | 11 Comments
Cayman Islands Conditional Release Board, Cayman News Service

HMP Northward inmates learn skills (file photo)

(CNS): The Cayman Islands Prison Service is increasing the education opportunities it offers to inmates this year with new programmes that expand vocational training and preparation for re-entry into society. Prison Director Steven Barrett said the prison will introduce a number of new workshops, including plumbing, electrical training, auto mechanic repairs and appliance repairs. The need for prisoners to improve their life chances while in jail has become even more important to the inmates as the Conditional Release Law requires them to show successful rehabilitation before they are eligible for parole.

For most inmates one of the main factors for consideration by the board overseeing prisoner releases is their ability to get a job, which can determine their fitness for parole before their sentence is complete.

“We are keen to ensure that these work opportunities are integrated with our education portfolio. It is less about the nature of the work, although that is important, but it is more about the competencies that will be developed for those who participate in these programmes, competencies that will be industry transferrable,” Barrett explained in a press release about the expanding rehab programmes.

Getting work after being released can be an uphill struggle and has contributed to Cayman’s high recidivism rates among offenders. But having real qualifications or skills will give them a greater chance of staying crime-free on the outside.

Deputy Director of Rehabilitation Aduke Joseph-Caesar said the goal of vocational training is to reduce inmates’ risk of recidivating by teaching them marketable skills they can use to find and retain employment following release from prison.

“Hands-on training can make a huge impact as it enables inmates to participate in apprenticeship programmes and connect with prospective employers, giving them access to jobs that provide reasonable salaries that help to stabilise their lives after release,” she said.

“Some vocational training programmes include opportunities to put in man hours which count towards industry-recognised credentials and certificates.”

Officials said the training will still be provided by prison officers who are trained and certified to deliver vocational courses, in conjunction with the University College of the Cayman Islands using City & Guilds and the Institute of the Motor Industry curriculum and certification.

In the past, whenever the prison is at or over capacity or there are security challenges, rehabilitation courses have been the first thing to suffer as officers are redeployed.

However, the prison said that a “full suite of programmes is scheduled to commence in June” and will run on a six-month cyclical basis. Inmates will complete all of the core competencies, such as basic math and English for the workplace, employability skills training, life skills, interpersonal skills, and emotional intelligence, as well as the programmes which they are found to need in psychological assessments.

Vocational programmes already underway include the woodwork shop, the agricultural project and the Fresh Start construction industry training programme. Now vocational training will also support more traditional academic courses.

According to officials more than 100 inmates completed online courses last year. Five passed the Caribbean Examinations Certificate Exam, three completed tertiary education degrees in areas ranging from theology to continuing education, while three enrolled in higher learning. An additional 25 inmates completed university and college level certificates.

Meanwhile, the Fresh Start construction industry training programme supported by private sector partners Phoenix, Clan Construction and Encompas is ongoing, with 14 men enrolled.

Last year, 16 inmates enrolled in the Fresh Start rehabilitation programme and four of them participated in the Release on Temporary Licence (ROTL) programme, which allowed them to be released into the community with certain restrictions once they secured employment with one of the Fresh Start companies.

The woodwork shop project also trains inmates in health and safety, hand and power tools operations and the construction of many items, including picnic tables, garbage can holders, park benches and swings among other things. HMCIPS is also piloting a new course in barbering, which will provide inmates with the opportunity to get a certificate.

On the prison farm 15 inmates are currently receiving formal instruction in agricultural science. During 2018 crops from the farm earned $16,000 from sales to supermarkets and other local vendors. Focus is also placed on the cultivation of creative talents, and over the course of the last year male and female inmates submitted 150 pieces of art and craft work to three different shows.

To facilitate the planned growth in training opportunities for inmates the prison is seeking more community partnerships, which Home Affairs Minister Tara Rivers said was an important part in the rehabilitation process.

“The more public and private sector partnerships can be developed, the greater the ability to assist inmates with the transition from prison back into the community as fully contributing citizens,” she said.

“The government is extremely grateful to those who have partnered with the prison service, and we look forward to expanding this network so that together we can reduce reoffending and the strain that it places on the criminal justice system, families and the community,” Minister Rivers added.

Public and private organisations interested in partnering with HMCIPS to support expanded training and work experience opportunities for inmates should contact the Prison Director Steven Barrett steven.barrett@gov.ky.

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Comments (11)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    How about teaching them about honor, morality and respect? Because that seems to be the real issue here.

  2. Anonymous says:

    What about getting them all scuba certified? Unless they are in jail for poaching. That way the tourists will actually see a Caymanian teaching diving that knows the island and can provide an authentic cultural background.

    Or teaching them how to drive the heavy machinery trucks? Teaching them how to make rope and the thatch baskets so they can pass something down to their children instead of more criminal behaviour. Teaching about the sea and how to navigate with the stars.

    Teach them coding and web design, e-commerce.

    Teach them things that they won’t be alone in people’s homes cause I will never let anyone work in my home again unless they are on a work permit. I am a single mother with children and if any one of these criminals ended up in my house and did something, I would be the next one in prison protecting my children.

    • Anonymous says:

      Rope making, thatch baskets and astral navigation are a little bit out of date in terms of modern economies, and I suspect the coding and web work has educational requirements that they are going to struggle with. Construction and commercial driving ideas seem a lot more likely, and whilst you may not want them in your house unsupervised -and the service companies would probably share that view for those convicted for dishonesty – there is no reason they couldn’t work on a job site in construction under supervision.

    • Caylass says:

      You only want people on a work permit? I wonder who you think cases your home when delivering water, fixing A/C’s or doing construction and then returns to break in later.

      • Anonymous says:

        Then they need to be deported. Simple.

        But a local who is a repeat offender, just because he’s learnt a new trade means it’s ok to have him in my house? No thanks.

  3. Anonymous says:

    The only time I’ve ever been robbed was after a guy came in to my home to fix my fridge. He obviously saw who lived there, two females, and cased the joint. Can’t we train them to be mechanics, most of them already a stolen car probably! Oh wait, the cops never track down who steals all these cars so they aren’t in jail.

  4. Anonymous says:

    This is so great but how does one trust to allow an ex-con into your home unless you stand over them like a hawk? As a tenant, I allow my landlord to arrange service people in with no idea if they are monitored. (okay, not anymore…)
    Remember the a/c repair guy that molested that little girl?

  5. anonymous says:

    Wonderful!

  6. Anonymous says:

    Great job Mr Barrett moving things forward

  7. Anonymous says:

    Send them to Batabano or Caymas for an education. My children got one over this past weekend.

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