KINGSTON — Some 702 inmates were re-classified for transfer to lower security institutions between January to September, compared with 758 for the similar period last year.
Acting Commissioner of Corrections, Lt. Colonel G. S Prendergast, speaking at a press conference at the Department of Correctional Services (DCS), 122 East Street offices in Kingston on October 21, said the process is undertaken after continuous assessments of the inmates.
"Depending on the sentence, over time they would have shown, through their good conduct, their participation in rehabilitation programmes, that their risk of harm to the public would diminish over time," he said.
"We have a particular committee that goes around, sees inmates on interviews and makes sensible assessments using various tools that have been developed over the years to try and track their risk of harm and re-offending and we make decent judgement calls as to when they are able to be moved from a maximum security facility to medium security or low security facilities," the Acting Commissioner added.
Lt. Colonel Prendergast said that this is also done in an effort to ease the burden of overcrowding in the two maximum security facilities in the island. They are Tower Street Adult Correctional and St. Catherine Adult Correctional Centres.
“Because our maximum security facilities are overcrowded, we are putting a lot of time and effort into the re-classification process, to make sure that if we have inmates who meet the criteria to be moved to less secure facilities, that we can do that move on time and therefore ease the pressure or overcrowding in our maximum security facilities,” he said.
He said that “record numbers” have been transferred to medium security facilities over time.
The mission of the DCS is to contribute to the safety and protection of society by keeping offenders secure, and facilitating their rehabilitation and reintegration as law-abiding citizens, while developing a professional and committed staff.
By Chris Patterson, JIS Reporter