Community rehabilitation takes everyone

The Cayman Islands Government Probation Aftercare Unit has designated this week as Probation and Parole Week, Community Rehabilitation is Everybody’s Business. The Caymanian Compass will include daily articles about the unit to help the community fully understand what the service provides.

The Probation After-Care Unit plays a very vital role in community rehabilitation as the main providers of through-care while in prison, as well as after-care and supervision within the community as authorized by the Parole Board under the law of the Cayman Islands.

Its vision is for successful re-integration into the community upon release from prison, while ensuring public safety.

The broad goal of parole and community rehabilitation as a whole is for a safer and more secure country for both residents and visitors.

Parole is frequently and erroneously viewed as a prisoner’s right.

However, within the jurisdiction of the Cayman Islands, it is considered a privilege; one that takes a large amount of work to achieve.

When a prisoner reaches his or her parole eligibility date, which is calculated by the Prison Services, he or she can be considered for parole. Eligibility does not guarantee release.

An offender must be deemed appropriate for parole by the Parole Board, which meets on a quarterly basis.

The ultimate decision to grant parole is made by the governor.

The Parole Board and the governor are assisted in their decision by several reports that are generated by the Prison Services, the Department of Counseling Services and the Probation After-Care Unit.

These reports, in particular the Home Background Report completed by the Probation After-Care Unit, provide the board with relevant information to form a collective assessment as to an offender’s level of risk and, hence, his/her suitability for parole.

The Home Background Report is a summary of a Parole eligible inmate’s circumstances. The report touches on areas such as family and personal circumstances, contact with family and friends while in prison, accommodation and employment if released, previous offending behavior, previous response to supervision, and attitude toward the offence(s) he or she is serving a sentence for.

All of this information is taken into account and an overall risk assessment is made by the parole officer preparing the report as to whether he or she is viewed as a suitable candidate for parole.

An action plan is then prepared as to what he or she is expected to do if granted parole or as to what he or she must do to be viewed as appropriate for parole.

The final decision in regards to parole, by law, remains the responsibility of the governor.

Once an inmate has been released into the community on a parole license, he or she has the responsibility to abide by each and every condition of that license, which involves very close supervision through the Probation Aftercare Unit.

A parolee is an offender serving the remainder of his or her sentence within the community.

Therefore, the parolee will remain on parole supervision until the date of sentence is complete and is viewed as more effective than release from prison with no supervision at all.

A parole officer’s duty varies and the required skills entail flexibility in the services provided and the necessity to be knowledgeable, experienced, and capable of addressing a wide variety of issues.

The different roles undertaken by a Parole Officer include, but are not limited to, that of liaison, counsellor, supervisor, enforcer and monitor.

A parole officer is charged with the task of ensuring offender rehabilitation through supervision on a parole license with the ultimate goal of assisting offenders in becoming more productive, law-abiding citizens in the Cayman Islands.

‘Parole has allowed me to get my freedom back. But, more than that, if you follow the set of guidelines (parole license), you stand more of a chance of keeping your freedom. Maintaining the guidelines helps you to a better life, a more productive life. However, one has to want it,’ said a recent parolee.

Without the assistance of the community, community rehabilitation would be ineffective.

A close relationship with a parolee’s family and the general community at large increases the chances of his or her success significantly.

The level of success increases considerably with the support of family and friends, stable and suitable employment and accommodation and ongoing support and supervision.

The Probation After-Care Unit attempts to liaise with persons and agencies within the community to assist in the creation of a social support network in order to lower a person’s risk of committing further offences.

Community rehabilitation has proven effective and continues to facilitate behavioral change in offenders.