KINGSTON — The integral role of the family unit in the reintegration of offenders is the focus of the Department of Correctional Services for this year’s Correctional Services Week.
“We are focusing on the need for strong family units to support our inmates, our wards, in their bid to be rehabilitated and to become successful and productive citizens once they are released and rejoin the society,” said Acting Commissioner of Corrections, Lt. Colonel Garfield Prendergast.
He was addressing a press conference at the DCS' East Street headquarters in Kingston on Friday (October 21) to launch the week of activities, which is being observed from October 23 to 29 under the theme: ‘Strengthening Families: Enabling Rehabilitation and Reintegration.’
Lt. Col. Prendergast informed that the community services offices have organised a full slate of activities centered on the theme and these range from family seminars to community marches.
He said the highlight will be the observance of family day by the various institutions across the island, where spouses, children, and guardians will be allowed to visit with the inmates and participate in a number of activities.
“Family days are put on to enable the family to actually come out, come into the correctional centres and actually interact with their relatives. Normally, during visits, there is no physical contact between the visitor and the inmate, but on these family days, we give them an opportunity to have contact with both their adult relatives and children,” he stated.
“This is a special occasion and I think this is the first time we are going to be having family days at every single institution under the department,” he said, noting that adequate security arrangements will be in place.
Minister of State for National Security, Hon. Dr. St. Aubyn Bartlett, in his remarks, noted that the week will facilitate “controlled interaction” in an effort to demonstrate the benefits of the reintegration programme in the institutions.
Activities for Correctional Services Week began with a church service at the Webster Memorial United Church in Kingston, and continue today (Oct. 24) with a Jamboree/Exposition dubbed: ‘A Family Affair’, at the St. Catherine Adult Correctional Centre Sports Club, Prison Oval, Spanish Town.
On Tuesday, (Oct. 25), there will be a parolee family day at the Aris Restaurant, Twickenham Park, Spanish Town, while the annual DCS awards dinner, to honour long-serving staff, will be held on Wednesday (Oct. 26) at the Wyndham Kingston hotel starting at 7:00 p.m. Guest speaker will be United States Ambassador to Jamaica, Pamela E. Bridgewater.
Activities continue on Thursday (Oct. 27) with staff of the St. Catherine Adult Correctional Centre showing off their athletic prowess during a sports day at the facility’s Sports Club starting at 9:00 a.m.
On Friday (Oct. 28), a debate will be held at the Wolmer’s High School for Girl’s Marescaux Road campus, with students from the school and St. George’s College arguing the moot: ‘Be it resolved that family support is a pre-requisite for true rehabilitation.’ The debate gets underway at 11:00 a.m.
By Chris Patterson, JIS Reporter