Minister of National Security, Senator the Hon. Dwight Nelson, has endorsed Community Corrections as a strategy to contain overcrowding in the penal facilities and reduce costs.
“It is currently costing taxpayers approximately US$9,672(J$860,852) annually to maintain an inmate in custodial care,” the Minister said in an address read by Permanent Secretary, Major Richard Reese, at the opening ceremony for the Department of Correctional Services’ (DCS) inaugural Caribbean Probation Officers’ Conference, on June 9, at the Hilton Kingston Hotel.
“Community Corrections refer to and recognise that there are alternatives to incarceration, such as Probation and Supervision orders, the ultimate aim of which is to realign the offender to live in the community as a peaceful, productive being without removing him into a custodial setting,” he stated.
The Security Minister also praised the work of probation officers, in assisting with the reintegration of offenders into society.
“Probation officers are assigned the monumental task of protecting the public by helping perpetrators to be rehabilitated, by reducing the rate of re-offending perpetrators,” he noted.
Senator Nelson said that the success of the probation system was dependent on the contribution of probation officers, who are called on to administer and monitor the movement and conduct of offenders, and to engender offenders’ awareness of the effects of crime on victims and the public in general.
Acting Commissioner of Corrections, June Spence-Jarrett (at podium) addressing the Department of Correctional Services’ (DCS) inaugural Caribbean Probation Officers’ Conference, on Tuesday(June 9), at the Hilton Kingston Hotel. Pictured from right at the head table are: Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of National Security, Major Richard Reese; State Minister in the Ministry of Finance and Public Service, Senator Arthur Williams; Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Justice, Robert Rainford; and chairperson for the event, Helene Coley-Nicholson.
Acting Commissioner of Corrections, Mrs. June Spence Jarrett, pointed out that the DCS, through the conference, has created a unique opportunity to revolutionalise particular aspects of the rehabilitation process.
“It therefore behoves us to make community corrections the way forward, as it reduces costs to our tax dollars,” she said.
“We must deepen our relationships, so that we become partners and stakeholders in the criminal justice processes. We must have greater public involvement in the probation/community services,” she noted.
Mrs. Spence Jarrett pointed out that possible outcomes for the conference include a report on best practice diversion programmes and treatment modalities for child offenders; recommendations regarding the establishment of a National Diversion Programme in Jamaica; as well as the care and treatment of children incarcerated in juvenile correctional centres.
It is also expected that plans for the establishment of a National Diversion Policy for children at risk, will be advanced, and a Caribbean Probation Officers’ Association established to facilitate information-sharing among professionals.
The conference, being held under the theme: ‘Community Corrections: 21st Century Approach’, will run June 9-11. Approximately 12 Caribbean countries are expected to participate.