- The Government has made provisions for further transformation of the country’s prison system.
- The changes are intended to ensure that the rehabilitation of inmates is in line with international standards.
- In light of this, in partnership with the UK government, a five-year strategic plan has been developed to transform the correctional services.
The Government has made provisions for further transformation of the country’s prison system, in order to ensure that the rehabilitation of inmates is in line with international standards.
Making the announcement in his presentation to the 2014/15 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives, on May 13, Minister of National Security, Hon. Peter Bunting, said the reform is being undertaken with input from the United Kingdom (UK).
“This administration subscribes to an enlightened approach to deal with persons who come into conflict with the law,” he stated.
In light of this, in partnership with the UK government, a five-year strategic plan has been developed to transform the correctional services. The main objectives are to strengthen the systems of rehabilitation; reduce reoffending; and comply with international human rights standards.
He pointed out that correctional institutions are not primarily populated by hardened criminals, but mainly houses young men who are convicted of less serious offences “and are redeemable”.
Minister Bunting informed the House that 70 per cent of persons sent into the correctional system last year had sentences of one year, or less. Twenty-eight per cent of those were repeat offenders.
“Many of these young men are incarcerated with hardened criminals, given limited opportunities for rehabilitation, and confined to cramped overcrowded cells with no modern sanitary conveniences for 18 hours per day,” he said, noting that once released they are stigmatized without being given an opportunity to contribute to the society.
He said these individuals are for example, unable to acquire a visa, or employment in the public sector, and most private sector entities.
“We should not be surprised that many of these persons see no option, but to return to a criminal lifestyle,” he said.
He said the Ministry of Justice is therefore seeking to reduce the range of offences that create a criminal record, and reduce the period for expunging records.
“However we need to do more,” the Minister stated.
Meanwhile, Mr. Bunting said potential sites have been identified for a new maximum security facility, as the main correctional institutions are old and beyond rehabilitation. Medium security inmates will be moved to other facilities.
“We are also embarking on a systematic and ongoing reclassification of inmates designed to ensure that as far as possible, maximum security facilities are used to hold maximum security inmates only,” the Minister told the House.