Prison officials hint at operational issues and training to blame
A incident that took place several weeks ago at Her Majesty’s Prison at Northward in which a prison officer was badly beaten has been addressed by prison service officials after several attempts to get the story by the Caymanian Compass.
The name officer who was assaulted in the melee nor the name of the inmate in question have not been released, as the investigation is ongoing. However officials did confirm that the suspect in the matter is currently in prison on “firearm charges”. The officer had been on leave for some time, though prison representatives would not say what his specific injuries were. He is now back at work. No charges were had been laid against the suspect by press time, as officials say the Royal Cayman Islands Police is now looking into the matter.
This is the second time that a prison officer has been assaulted in recent months, with another officer having his ear bitten off by an inmate previous to this most recent assault.
Deputy Director of Prisons Aduke Joseph-Caesar outlined some strategies that would be employed at the prison going forward to curb any further flair-ups between the staff and inmates.
“Prison must maintain a safe and secure environment to protect their inmates, staff, visitors and ultimately, the community. Historically, many prisons have struggled to achieve this. We are managing inmate behaviour within the prison as this is critical to a safe and secure environment. The design and condition of Her Majesty’s Prison Service physical plant hardly allows us to use electronic systems to assist with safety and security. However, experience has shown prisons cannot rely on these measures alone. To be safe and secure, prison staff must actively supervise and manage inmate behaviour. Training in assertiveness communication, interpersonal skills, conflict resolution, problem solving and building professional relationships will be huge in de-escalating conflicts.”
Mrs. Caesar did not say whether deficiencies in the areas canvassed above were to blame for the officer’s trouncing.
Though, she added: “We hope to implement policies and procedures to standardise our operations and thus create the avenue for open communication and respect, which can lead to trust in the organization. It is a long journey to achieving a well run institution but even so, research has shown that incidents may happen, as we are dealing with varied personalities.”
Most recently, the prison services has launched a training programme in conjunction with the Civil Service College, which seeks to have officers benefit from a 12-week course facilitated by the Civil Service College of the Cayman Islands.
The course, which is one of the first of its kind to be offered to managers at the prison, will focus on organisational behaviour and communication.
“This undertaking has been tailor-made for the prison and will bring our correctional workers into the 21st Century in terms of computer literacy, the ability to write reports and analytical thinking. Subject matter such as motivational interviewing and emotional intelligence will also be explored,” said Aduke Natalie Joseph-Caesar, deputy director of the prison service.
She said that the pilot project was a part of “restructuring of how we work with inmates by restructuring ourselves”.
The prison will also have a change in management for the top position of director, which is being manned by Mr. Daniel Greaves, after the resignation of the former Prison Director Dwight Scott.
A number of reviews of the prison system during the past 18 months, including what is expected to be a damning report soon to be released by the United Kingdom’s prisons inspectorate, have also led to a number of changes within the prison system in the British Overseas Territory.
“These and other reports have led to the creation of a new senior post (deputy director of prison rehabilitation) within the prison and to increasing momentum for change and a desire to see significant improvements in both custodial care and in reducing offending,” noted an advertisement for the position of prison director.