JIS News

Story Highlights

  • The findings of the regional prison survey conducted by the National Council on Drug Abuse (NCDA) will influence the National Rehabilitation Strategy being drafted by the Department of Correctional Services (DCS).
  • The 2014 survey was conducted in Jamaica, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Dominica, St. Lucia, Trinidad and Tobago, Antigua and Barbuda and St. Kitts and Nevis
  • The survey findings in relation to criminal history showed that 30 per cent of the inmates were repeat offenders.

The findings of the regional prison survey conducted by the National Council on Drug Abuse (NCDA) will influence the National Rehabilitation Strategy being drafted by the Department of Correctional Services (DCS).

The 2014 survey was conducted in Jamaica, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Dominica, St. Lucia, Trinidad and Tobago, Antigua and Barbuda and St. Kitts and Nevis. It explored the relationship between criminal behaviour and drugs among convicted and remanded inmates.

Director of Probation Services at the DCS,  Janet Davey, told JIS News in an interview that the survey is very timely and will inform the national approach in rehabilitating inmates.

She said the strategy, slated to be completed by year-end, “will focus mainly on rehabilitation and reintegration to keep the re-offenders at an all-time low.”

“The (strategy) will help us to look at all we need to do in terms of rehabilitation, which is our mandate. So although it was a prison survey, it also has implications for what might happen in the probation services,” Ms. Davey said.

She noted that given the findings, the Department has to also restructure programmes already in place for inmates.

“We may not be able to achieve everything immediately, but it can be addressed incrementally,” she told JIS News.

She pointed out that given the fact that the survey was a regional one, the findings “have placed us in a position to assess ourselves in terms of what is happening in other countries. The research findings have shown that we are not as bad as local persons sometimes make it out to be.”

The survey findings in relation to criminal history showed that 30 per cent of the inmates were repeat offenders.

When the data was compared to other countries surveyed, repeat offending was significantly higher in countries such as Dominica, St. Vincent, Trinidad and St. Kitts, where recidivism rates were over 50 per cent.

In terms of drug use, it found that marijuana is the most prevalent drug used by convicted and remand inmates across the seven Caribbean countries.

Between 68 and 86 per cent of all offenders surveyed reported to have used marijuana at least once in their lifetime. In Jamaica, three quarters of those surveyed reported use of the drug.

The DCS provides rehabilitation services to 3,600 inmates, who are in custodial care and another 4,000 persons on probation.