Prisoners to clean up north coast

Building sidewalk on Queen’s Highway is long-term goal

 

Inmates from Northward Prison are being identified for work crews that will clean up Grand Cayman’s north coast before the end of November. 

Businessman Derrington “Bo” Miller and prison director Neil Lavis explained the project to North Side residents at a district council meeting on Thursday night. 

The coastline cleanup will cover the area from Rum Point to Morritt’s Resort in East End, approximately 15 miles. Mr. Miller estimated that 20 men could do the work in two weeks, picking up garbage and seaweed, separating the seaweed for fertilizer, and bagging the garbage for collection by the Department of Environmental Health. He noted that the north coast catches much of the debris that washes up from the open sea, along with seaweed. 

Mr. Miller pointed out that the north coast has more than 50 percent of Grand Cayman’s tourist accommodations, with between 1,500 and 2,000 rooms. He hoped the area would be cleaned up by the end of November, the start of the tourist season. 

If the project is successful, it will be expanded around East End and along the south coast to Bodden Town. 

Mr. Lavis said he currently has a prison population of 163 males and 14 females. Of the total 177 inmates, 131 are Caymanian. “They are the ones coming back to you. My job is to send them back less likely to offend,” he told the gathering at the Craddock Ebanks Civic Centre. 

“You can’t lock people up and throw away the key,” he pointed out. “A majority are going to be returned to the community.”  

Mr. Lavis’s approach is to assess prisoners coming into the system to determine their risks; get them whatever intervention they may need, such as drug counseling or anger management; and finally, toward the end of their sentence, get them involved in community work and then paid work.  

If the prison gets the rehabilitation work right, it will have a positive impact on the work done by police and other agencies, he indicated. 

For the north coast project, Mr. Lavis pledged, “I’m going to do my best to get low-risk prisoners out… [and] make the place pleasing to the eye.” 

The actual logistics of transporting and feeding the prisoners, along with scheduling specific work sites, will be dealt by Richard Barton Sr., who is in charge of programs for prisoners working in the community. Mr. Barton will liaise with Mr. Miller, and both men will finalize plans with Mr. Lavis in the next two weeks. 

North Side MLA Ezzard Miller told property managers that the prisoners will be working in public areas that no one else is dealing with. 

Once the cleanup is completed, Bo Miller is proposing that prisoners build a sidewalk on the ocean side of the road from the Queen’s Monument, at the western end of the Queen’s Highway, eastward to the Royal Reef Resort, approximately 6 miles. He said one thing tourists complained about was having nowhere to walk. 

Business owners have already agreed to donate materials, he said. Along with the sidewalk would come roadside landscaping, Mr. Miller elaborated. Prisoners could then work with the National Roads Authority on a continuous maintenance program. 

He accepted that the project could take a year or more, but it would help participants develop their skills and sense of pride in their accomplishment. It would also result in an improvement of Cayman’s tourism product and a more pleasant environment for everyone, Mr. Miller summarized. 

“We have people in prison who made a bad choice, who made a genuine mistake. We say, ‘Let’s give them a chance,’” Mr. Lavis declared. Mr. Miller presented another perspective: Prisoners who do community work will receive more favorable acceptance by society upon their release, he predicted.  

Prison-Director

Taking part in a pre-meeting discussion in North Side, from left: Derrington “Bo” Miller, prison director Neil Lavis, prison officer Richard Barton Sr. and Chad Powell of Cayman Freelancers, which matches workers with jobs. – Photo: Carol Winker

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