New prison facilities unveiled

Three new facilities at Her Majesty’s Prison Northward were recently opened by Governor Stuart Jack.

Mr. Jack officially opened a new educational facility, a fully equipped gymnasium, and a staff training facility.

‘I am very impressed by the quality of work and the fact that the inmates provided all the labour,’ said Mr. Jack.

‘There are talented persons here.’

The new educational centre holds two main teaching rooms, an important aspect since many inmates receive remedial English lessons there. Lessons are taught weekly by Teaching Coordinator Michelle Pentney and a team of volunteers.

Additionally, General Educational Development lessons are taught Monday to Friday.

GED certification involves passing five tests that confirm North American high school-level academic equivalency.

Inmates also have access to art education and other online certification programmes.

According to the Acting Prison Educational Coordinator, Alton McDonald, a growing number of prisoners participate in cognitive behavioural group-work programmes based on formal risk and needs assessment to assist rehabilitation and curb recidivism.

Two prison forensic psychologists based at Northward, with a team of specially trained prison officers, run these programmes.

Next on the prison’s agenda for early 2009 is a computer education programme.

The gymnasium is equipped with rowing, cycling, treadmill and stair-climbing machines in addition to weights.

The new staff training facility also doubles as a hurricane shelter.

Prison Director Dwight Scott explained that the downstairs hall houses a collapsible cell for training purposes. He added that the large upstairs training facility would be available to other government departments for training purposes.

Mr. Jack said: ‘With this emphasis on rehabilitation, inmates are being helped to improve their attitudes and skills. The goal is to ease their re-entry into the mainstream.”