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It is a signal honour to participate in this afternoon Passing-Out Parade as the Guest Speaker. I begin by congratulating each and everyone of you who has successfully completed the training programme. Indeed, this is a moment of which you deserve to beam with pride. I also wish to extend congratulations to the family members and friends of the graduates who are here to identify with the accomplishment of your relatives.
Today marks your Passing Out from the Staff College but not your passing out of training and development. I commend to you that training is an on-going process. In order to become consummate professionals as well as attain higher office.
In Colossians 3: 23-24: It says:”And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men. Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance; for ye serve the Lord Christ.”
I would like to remind you that Life long learning is the key. Make a commitment to grow daily.
The inspirational writer John Maxwell reminds us that “You will never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret to your success is found in your daily routine”
The compliment of the Department of Correctional Services now stands at approximately 2,000. The Ministry of National Security in its efforts to modernize the Department as well as to enhance its efficiency sought and obtained the approval of the Cabinet and importantly the Ministry of Finance and Planning to increase the staff compliment by 150. This batch will form part of that number.
Indeed, you have joined the Department of Correctional Services at a period in time when there are many changes taking place and many more are on the horizon (no pun intended). You have joined the Department at a time when greater reliance is being placed on the use of technology such as the Inmate Management System which will allow for the use of computer application software in the care and management of inmates particularly as it relates to their records.
Indeed, you have joined the Department of Correctional Services when there has been a paradigm shift. Greater emphasis is being placed on non-custodial sentences or community services orders where appropriate. You have joined the Correctional Services at a time when the pilot phase of electronic tagging of some convicted person will be explored as a sentencing option.
These developments reflect the need for a greater appreciation of Correctional Services. The developments taking place require new thinking and new approaches to the business of correctional services. It is a fact that in the past correctional institutions particularly in the context of post-slavery, post-colonial societies such as ours was preoccupied with the need to punish; their actions were punitive rather than rehabilitative or restorative.
If there was any doubt in anyone’s mind that a paradigm shift has taken place with respect to rehabilitation and reintegration one should just consider the recent releases which gave rise to media frenzy. I would however, offer a word of caution. Punishment has its place. When an individual willfully injuries his or her community by perpetuating crimes particularly brutal crimes against members of the community appropriate sanctions must be imposed. At the same time there must be room for restoration where possible.
The buzz word in the corridors of justice these days is ‘restorative’ justice. In broad terms the concept refers to the perpetrator of a crime making some form of restitution to the victim of his or her crime in the first instance and to society at large. Restorative Justice seeks to bring the offender face to face with the offended so that he or she may appreciate the magnitude of the damage done to the victim.
It is hoped that where this ‘face-to-face’ occurs the impact would be life changing for the offender and that individual would repent of his anti-social and criminal behaviour. In fact, in many industrialized countries such as Canada where this approach is taken there is data to suggest that the level of recidivism is lowered.
Similarly, the Pratt and Morgan case demonstrates that even inmates convicted of murder are entitled to be treated humanely treated whilst incarcerated. Many commentators on this celebrated case ignore the fact that the Privy Council did not overturn the conviction of Mr. Pratt or Mr. Morgan. Likewise there was an over emphasis on the length of time it took between sentence and execution. And the taunting or provocation of the men whilst on death row was a contributory factor to the final outcome.
I merely raise these issues to underscore the point to you graduates that you must at all times be mindful of the humanity of the prisoner.
Romans 12: 21 remind us:Be not overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
The Privy Council found the treatment of Mr. Morgan and Mr. Pratt unacceptable as they were taunted with the death penalty and despite being granted a stay of execution; they were put through the motion by correctional officers who at the last minute advised that the stay had been granted. I admonish you the graduating members of the intake of 67 to act professionally and legitimately at all times irrespective of the circumstances.
The upshot of the recent releases is that the Correctional Department is having some desired effect as it relates to rehabilitation. The utterances of Mr. Pratt’s tone upon his release tend to suggest that he is penitent, that he accepts responsibility for the wrong he did and whilst not making any excuses, it is probable that he may have fallen prey to peer pressure and negative influences. To the extent that Mr. Pratt is rehabilitated the Department of Correctional Services can be proud.
For this reason (placing emphasis on rehabilitation and reintegration) the Government of Jamaica has embarked upon modernization of the Department of Correctional Services and in this regard has implemented a number of initiatives geared towards bringing the correctional services into the 21st Century.
The process of modernization is not limited only to upgrading the physical infrastructure and technology which currently exists. The process of modernization has taken into account the training of the men and women involved in the Correctional Services. We believe that this is a critical component to overhauling the Correctional Services. The Human element will remain significant to the process notwithstanding the development in technology.
In seeking to produce men and women who are well qualified, the government has invested heavily in training. In 2004-2005 over One Hundred and Ten Corporals completed the upgrading course at the Carl Rattary College. In the same year One Hundred and Sixty One Correctional Officers (CO 1) completed the upgrading training at the Carl Rattary Training College. Four Members of staff from the Adult institutions and the Staff Training College completed training in Supervisory Management at the Management Institute for National Development (MIND). Over 300 members of staff as well as the Board of Visitors were trained in Risk Management
The Government is more than aware that distinctive competencies are retained through highly developed employee skills; an organizational culture characterized by commitment, accountability and cooperation amongst workers as well as established managerial processes and systems. It is also recognized that competitive advantage can be obtained with a highly qualified workforce that enables organizations to compete on the basis of market responsiveness, product and service quality. We want to ensure that our men and women in the Department of Correctional Services are among the most qualified in the public service.
In this regard, the 67th intake of Correctional Services who are Passing-Out on this occasion would have benefited tremendously from training in Rehabilitation and Risk Need Assessment. Of even greater significance in my mind, is the exposure of Correctional Officers, including Intake 67, to training in the Code of Ethics and Values of the Department of Correctional Services.
As you Pass-Out today, I charge you to remain true to the Department of Correctional Services’ core values of honesty and integrity.
I charge you to remain committed, to be professional at all times even in the face of adversity, remain committed to upholding the laws and related Acts which govern the correctional services.
I charge you to remain steadfast in you determination to serve your country in this area of service.
Work hard and remember as John Maxwell reminds us,”Every worthwhile accomplishment has a price tag attached to it. The question is always whether you are willing to pay the price to attain it in hard work, sacrifice, patience, faith and endurance.”
This poem by an anonymous writer sums it up:
He worked by day and toiled by night.He gave up play and much delight.Dry books he read, new things to learn.And forged ahead, success to earn.He plodded on, with faith and pluck.And when he won, they called it luck.
I would like to wish you success in all your endeavours and God’s richest blessings.
Matthew 5: 16:
Let you light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
I thank you.

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