A new vocational block at Her Majesty’s Prison at Northward in Grand Cayman is breathing fresh air into rehabilitation efforts and giving prisoners some practical skills.
Prison Director Dwight Scott spoke in detail about the development of the new vocational area and how the project came to fruition. He also spoke about the goals that can now be set as a result of having the facilities operational.
“The original prison workshop was destroyed by Hurricane Ivan and we realised that we had to somehow help ourselves in rebuilding. Our efforts were subsidised in some measure by the Portfolio of Internal and External Affairs,” he said. “We wanted to be able to provide relevant skills and certification to those who are serving out their sentences. Some of them we know are naturally gifted with regard to building and things of that nature, but we felt it was important that these individuals also have formal certification as it relates to those areas.”
The prison director noted that the programmes on offer would be taught by prison staff, as well as individuals from the community. He outlined which categories of prisoners would be eligible for the training.
“We will be focusing on Category B to D prisoners. A is the highest risk. Ultimately, we are hoping that all prisoners can be considered for this kind of training as a result of sectioning off different areas.”
Acting Chief Officer in the Portfolio of Internal and External Affairs Katheryne Dinspell-Powell said it has always been a dream to provide vocational training for prisoners. Mrs. Dinspell-Powell also pointed out some of the overlapping benefits of having state-of-the-art facilities and machinery.
“We have left enough space for expansion and we would like to see the prisoners develop to a point where they can take the skills learnt to carve out viable ventures for themselves that will make them more independent. As a result, we are coupling these efforts with business classes to help make the most of their skills.”
She said the Cayman Islands Ministry of Education is considering partnering with the portfolio in making the facility available in the evenings for vocational programmes for students.
The vocational training centre in the prison should be ready for use in August of this year, when fencing will be complete, officials said.