Efforts being made to reduce recidivism in prisons


National Security Minister, Senator Dwight Nelson, says efforts are being made to reduce the rate of recidivism among criminal offenders, through the Jamaica Reducing Re-offending Action Plan (JRRAP).
“Efforts are being made to reduce the number of re-offenders which is of critical importance to the security of the country,” Mr. Nelson said ina brief address delivered by the Ministry’s Senior Director, Human Resource Management and Administration, Aileen Wolfe-Stephens, at the Department of Correctional Services’ (DCS) Awards Banquet at the Wyndham New Kingston Hotel on Thursday (October 28)

Chief Personnel Officer, Office of the Services Commission, Jacqueline Hinkson (left), presenting Department of Correctional Services (DCS) employee, Coleen Clarke, with a special plaque, during the DCS’s awards banquet at the Wyndham New Kingston Hotel on Thursday (October 28), in recognition of her 10 years of service to the organization.

Recidivism is the rate at which individuals who are imprisoned or otherwise punished for offences committed, repeat those or other crimes. The JRAP, launched in June 2009, is a British government-funded rehabilitation initiative, targeting deportees and local offenders by providing accommodation and other facilities.
Senator Nelson noted that the current rate of re-offending by persons incarcerated and released from penal institutions, which stands at 23 per cent, “is still very high.”
He said that the influx of individuals, who run afoul of the law in other jurisdictions as well as in Jamaica, and spend time in penal institutions, is an urgent consideration of the security of the country.

Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Paula Llewellyn (left), presenting Department of Correctional Services (DCS) employee, David Bowie, with a special plaque, during the DCS’s awards banquet at the Wyndham New Kingston Hotel on Thursday (October 28), in recognition of his 20 years of service to the organization.

“Accordingly, there is an urgent need to build a rehabilitative bridge between civil society, the judicial and law enforcement processes,” the Minister stressed.
Senator Nelson advised that the Ministry, in collaboration with the DCS, is developing various strategies to keep approximately 1,800 local offenders from recommitting new offences, of which JRRAP is one. He also explained that the plan entails strengthening the DCS’ capacity to provide accommodation and other services that will help in the rehabilitation process.
Senator Nelson said, however, that those plans could not be limited to persons who have been incarcerated “on local and foreign soil.”

Senior Director, Human Resource Management and Administration, Aileen Wolfe-Stephens (left), presents Department of Correctional Services (DCS) employee, Euton Adams (right), with a special plaque, during the DCS’s Awards Banquet at the Wyndham New Kingston Hotel on Thursday (October 28), in recognition of his 30 years of service to the organization. Looking on is colleague, Winston Anderson, who was also recognized for 30 years service.

Everything must be done to also rehabilitate non-violent offenders rather than imprisoning them, he stated.
He argued that imprisonment does not address the source of the problem involving non-violent offenders in particular, citing the need for mechanisms that will examine why an individual commits a crime.
Senator Nelson said the DCS must be commended for playing its part in implementing and administering aspects of the JRAP. Noting that rehabilitative care is not simply a “buzz word” in the Ministry, or the DCS, he said it is recognized as the most effective way of ensuring that the rate of recidivism is significantly reduced.
“This is one of the primary tasks of the DCS (and), given the fact that inmates are from different backgrounds with different challenges, the remedial programmes cannot be a one size fit all. New challenges that confront the DCS with each passing day, stimulates its members to craft new strategies that must benefit the people under their care,” he said.
He saluted the DCS for its “unwavering commitment and unstinting dedication” to the ultimate cause strengthening the safety and security of the country.
Guest speaker, Psychologist and Motivational Speaker, Dr. Leachim Semaj, also commended the work of the DCS in rehabilitating inmates in correctional institutions.
The banquet formed part of activities in celebration of Corrections Week 2010, October 24 to 31, under the theme: ‘Rehabilitation: Changing Lives; Restoring Hope’. About 82 members of staff were presented with awards in recognition of 10 to 30 years of service to the DCS. Additionally, some 27 retirees were recognized for service to the organization.
Corrections Week culminates this weekend with a two-day Exposition/Trade Fair at Devon House, from Saturday (October 30) to Sunday (October 31) between 9 a.m. and 10 p.m. The two-day event will showcase various items produced by inmates in juvenile and adult institutions, which will be on sale.

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