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the Department of Correctional Services’ (DCS) on-going Inmate Public Work Programme will continue, with inmates repainting police stations in St. Catherine, during the first quarter of this year.
Senator Nelson, making his contribution to the State of the Nation Debate in the Senate last week, noted that the programme was expanded last year to include work on Highway 2000. “The inmates also carried out bushing at the National Stadium for the annual Boys and Girls Championships,” he said.
Implemented in 2008, the Inmate Work Programme, which aims at rehabilitation and empowerment, utilises the labour of moderate to low-risk inmates from adult correctional facilities in the clean-up and beautification of public places.
The Minister praised the Department for continuing to make improvements in many areas over the past year, including the rehabilitation of offenders for their successful re-integration into the society.
“In 2009, the DCS, in collaboration with the Ministry of National Security and the British Government, launched the Jamaica Reducing Re-offending Action Plan, JRRAP as it is called, which underpins the Government’s commitment to improving the efficiency and effectiveness of rehabilitation and reintegration services to local offenders and deported persons,” he said.
The Minister noted that JRRAP reinforces the need for collaboration and inter-agency partnerships on Jamaica, and eliminates duplication of services to offenders and deported persons, adding that in 2009, approximately 3,500 persons were deported from the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom.
On another matter, Senator Nelson informed that with the help of the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID), the Howard Hostels at the Tower Street Adult Correctional Centre were renovated and furnished in preparation for the resumption of the hostel programme. This is in addition to a new visitor’s centre that was constructed at that Centre.
“In addition, under the DFID programme, the gymnasium at all four of our adult institutions were refurbished with new equipment and other items,” he said, adding that the DCS will soon benefit from a new system for the electronic tagging and monitoring of certain categories of inmates.
He noted too that the Ministry is looking at expanding the alternative sentence option through the Community Service Order Programme.
Regarding the challenges encountered with the housing of juvenile offenders, the Minister said that an approach being utilised to reduce the number of juveniles being incarcerated is the population prison reduction strategy, whereby children who are fully rehabilitated are sent home on a ‘licence’, which is the juvenile version of parole.
Turning to the education and training for inmates and wards, which is part of the rehabilitative process within correctional institutions, the Minister noted that during 2009, a total of 17 wards and 15 inmates sat the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC ) examination. “The wards at Rio Cobre did very well, with 11 of the 13 wards being successful in at least one subject. Two wards received passes in three subjects,” he said.
Meanwhile, funding of $174 million has been allocated to refurbish the Montpelier facility in St. James to accommodate male juvenile offenders. “When the male offenders are removed from the Rio Cobre facility to Montpelier, this will allow the DCS to relocate female offenders to this location,” the Minister said.