Officials step up prison rehab efforts

| 20/10/2020 | 27 Comments
  • Cayman News Service
  • Cayman News Service
  • Cayman News Service

(CNS): Inmates at HMP Northward are now training to fill some of Cayman’s major skills gaps for technical jobs that are in the highest demand, from air-conditioning repair to carpentry. One of the biggest problems with the criminal justice system is the recidivism of offenders, given the barriers they face finding work when they leave jail and the tendency to go back to their pre-incarcerated lives.

But thirteen prisoners recently received certificates in sought-after trade professions and are the first to complete courses offered by HM Cayman Islands Prison Service in collaboration with Inspire Cayman Training, a private sector vocational training centre.

Michael Myles founded Inspire Cayman because there was no government-funded vocational school and it now supplies training courses to a range of organisations, including government. Myles has now been contracted by the prison service to provides inmates with globally recognised qualifications through the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER).

Now that the first group of graduates is qualified in these technical professions, the key issue is getting employers to take them on when they are released.

The government has already increased the opportunities it offers to former prisoners and no longer has a blanket ban on employing newly released inmates. The chief officer in the Portfolio of the Civil Service, Gloria McField Nixon, told CNS that there are already a number of pathways for ex-offenders to work in government and, depending on the circumstances, a former conviction is no longer a barrier by itself to joining the civil service.

One programme specifically designed to accommodate ex-offenders is the Second Chances Programme, where departments perform high levels of screening to ensure a good match. There are currently three former inmates in fixed-term employment through Second Chances, another three are in the process of being settled and there is room for three more.

In the private sector, however, things can be more challenging. Those with very old convictions have a greater chance of finding work, and changes to the law have expunged records, giving many people a clean slate.

But as Prison Director Steven Barrett explained, the challenge is dealing with those prisoners being released now and ensuring that they don’t come back to an already overcrowded jail. He said it was important for the prison to build strategic partnerships with the private sector to connect the individuals in custody doing the training with local industries and ensure the inmates have the relevant skills employers need.

“The acquisition of the skills and qualifications through this programme will help to remove some of the traditional barriers presented to those leaving prison when it comes to applying for jobs in the future. It is hoped that this programme, for those who commit fully to it, will have much better prospects of finding and maintaining meaningful employment going forward,” he said.

Myles said the accomplishment of these first graduates speaks volumes about the quality of the instructors and the enthusiasm of the participants.

Following the initial success of the programme, work is underway to get more inmates on board. Vocational Training Supervisor Dwight Simms noted that with the Inspire partnership they have access to 1,200 training programmes and a significant local employer network.

“The programme provides a valuable transition from custody to the community by enabling prisoners registered with the programme to continue their learning after they leave us,” he added.

Home Affairs Minister Tara Rivers, who has responsibility for the prison service, said that ensuring the time inmates spend in prison is constructive will lead to safer communities. “Broadening the opportunities for those in custody to find meaningful, sustained employment is critical to reducing their likelihood to reoffend once released,” she added.


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Category: Crime, Crime Prevention, Jobs, Local News, Prison

Comments (27)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    How much is this boondoggle costing us??? NO EARLY RELEASE!

  2. Kman says:

    Thanks a million to Michael Myles and Inspire Cayman for implementing this programme and to Government for supporting it as a way to train and rehabilitate Caymanians. This is why we need to make training and apprenticeship a part of our education system, follow Switzerland’s model.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Malik Mothen got 13 years in 2017. I commend the man for qualifying for a trade, but hope that his participation on the program doesnt indicate that there is any intention to release him anytime soon.

  4. Anonymous says:

    World class prison service.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Great!! Let’s now legalize cannabis so people e don’t have to go through this for a plant

  6. ELVIS says:

    Great work by all involved.
    like it or lump it these men and women will be living amongst us in the near future. Wouldn’t you prefer someone who is coming out of prison with hope, a skill, a job?
    Great work going on in there right now.
    Thank you Mr. Director and the positive rehabilitation team.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Unless inmates are serving time for murder, rape and other dimilar crimes, then we as a society should afford them a second and even a thtid in some cases.

    Inmates are human beings and just because they have messed up does not equate to throwing them under the bus.

    Congrats to all involved. Clap,clap, clap!!!!!!

  8. Anonymous says:

    Give a man a loaf of bread, feed him for a day. Give a man a job so he can feed himself for life.

  9. Anonymous says:

    This is wonderful, congratulations to all!

  10. roger davies says:

    Congratulations to all concerned, an excellent programme. Hopefully employers will come on board.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Great work to the staff and director Mr Barrett. Things are gathering pace now XXXX and there is a positive feel about the place. Keep up the good work sir

    • Anonymous says:

      positive feel….. thats not what i hear from friends that work there

      • Anonymous says:

        Well I have personal experience that rehabilitation is moving forward in a positive way, now the nonsense has been dealt with

  12. Anonymous says:

    They tried to make me go but I said no,no, no.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Well done to all.

  14. Anonymous says:

    They can become MLAs. There is a precedent. Huge pay, minimum hours, no requirement to do or say anything for four years and with luck and a turkey or two at Xmas to folks you can get another four years.

  15. Anonymous says:

    This is a great initiative, congrats HMP Northward and the inmates who’ve completed. Hope employers will appreciate the efforts and, apparently, intents of the inmates upon release and give them a chance.

    I know a man who has been looking work for almost 2 years. Upon release from Northward, he got a job. After 3 months, settled in and seemingly satisfying his boss, he felt comfortable enough to share that he had been an inmate. He was promptly fired. Shameful!

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