KINGSTON, Jamaica – Former prison doctor, Raymoth Notice has asserted that many convicted criminals are leaving the penal system more brutal than when they went in, and called for greater emphasis on the correctional system under the new crime plan.
Notice, a former mayor of Spanish Town, was commenting on the findings of a study conducted by a group of psychiatrists.
It revealed that a significant number of incarcerated inmates have suffered from permanent psychosis, meaning they are out of touch with reality.
“Instead of being rehabilitated, a large number of inmates are leaving the penal system more hardened, cold and vicious than before they went in,” Notice said.
Notice, who worked as a senior medical officer at the St Catherine Adult Correctional Centre for seven years, believes the rehabilitation programmes in the penal system have not been effective because enough resources are not provided.
The head of the Department of Correctional Services Major Richard Reece agreed that the lack of resources has restricted inmate participation in rehabilitation programmes until it was almost time for them to be released.
He told The Gleaner that his biggest challenge includes men aged 35-40, some of whom are repeat offenders.
“This group has been categorised as career criminals. They are hardened and cannot be changed,” Reece told The Gleaner.
In a move to correct the issue, Reece has accelerated the classification process in the prisons.
“As soon as new inmates come into the system, we process them, reducing the level of exposure and influence,” he said.
According to the Reece, based on their classification, the inmates are either sent to low, medium or maximum security facilities.
Despite the country’s high crime rate, Reece stressed that last year the penal system admitted 200 fewer inmates, while the population at the two maximum security prisons at Tower Street and St Catherine continue to decrease.