Work program to continue after Christmas holidays
Prison inmates are in the process of cleaning up some of Cayman’s popular beaches.
The inmates from Northward Prison began the beach cleanup project on Nov. 17. Since then, between 10 and 18 men have been brought to various sites by 9 a.m. and have worked steadily until 3 p.m., according to project organizer Derrington “Bo” Miller.
Two guards who accompany the men have joined in the work with them. In their first three days, the men filled more than 400 bags of debris and seaweed, Mr. Miller said.
Equipment including rakes, shovels, gloves and wheelbarrows have been contributed by businesses or lent by the National Roads Authority.
Mr. Miller bought some water boots and provided lunches the first week. Then a woman in North Side agreed to cook and deliver midday meals; the Department of Tourism is picking up the cost.
The beach cleanups began at Connolly’s Cove, an area popular for snorkeling and beachcombing near the Queen’s Highway Monument. The crew then moved to an area east of Barefoot Beach that is frequented by guests from The Reef Resort and Morritt’s in East End on a daily basis, Mr. Miller said. Not only did the inmates rake and shovel seaweed, they also cleaned the access path.
This week, they have been at Jackie Bay, east of the Millers cemetery on Old Robin Road, another area frequented by visitors.
“Everywhere we’ve been, there have been tourists,” Mr. Miller said. “I tell them these guys are from the jail and they say, ‘What a great idea,’ and how good they’re making the beach look.”
Garbage has been separated from seaweed and the Department of Environmental Health has picked up most of both. “We did have a couple North Side gentlemen come by and collect some seaweed for fertilizer,” Mr. Miller noted. He expressed some dismay at the amount of plastic on the beach – some washed up, but some looking as if it were left behind by people using the beach.
Prison Director Neil Lavis and his assistant, Officer James Walrond who is in charge of the project, visited the men on Wednesday this week. “They were very impressed with the amount of work being done and agreed to extend it until December 12,” Mr. Miller said.
He explained that the original plan was to clean the north coast public area before the American Thanksgiving holiday on Thursday. However, the prison schedule and practical details meant that the actual work did not get started early enough to hit that deadline.
The time extension means that the prisoners will be able to meet the goal of cleaning the north coast beaches – continuing west to the public dock near Over the Edge; the beaches behind the North Side Post Office and Chisholm’s Supermarket; the areas along Rum Point Road to the Cayman Kai public beach and Kaibo public beach.
“If anyone has any other suggestions for areas to be cleaned, just let us know,” Mr. Miller urged.
“These are young Caymanians who are excited and grateful for the opportunity to be outdoors doing work that is useful and appreciated,” he said.
“We have to develop sustainable, continuous programs and projects to give these folks a sense of belonging and ownership in order to help them re-enter our society as productive citizens. This exercise is Rehabilitation 101 and all are working with a positive attitude,” he summarized.
Mr. Miller reported on the project to residents during the North Side District Council public meeting on Tuesday night this week. Council chairwoman Maxine Bodden Robinson said the audience appreciated the update and were happy to hear of the progress being made. “On behalf of the council, I have expressed our thanks to Bo for spearheading this project and seeing it through with the help of various persons and businesses in the community,” she said.
The project was introduced at the council’s public meeting last month, when Mr. Lavis and Mr. Miller explained the rationale for it.
Mr. Lavis’s approach is to assess prisoners coming into the system to determine their risks; get them whatever intervention they may need; and finally, toward the end of their sentence, get them involved in community work, and then paid work. Mr. Miller predicted that prisoners who do community work will receive more favorable acceptance by society upon their release.
The cleanup project will take a break for the holidays and resume in the new year, he told the Cayman Compass. Plans are also going forward for the construction of a sidewalk from the Queens’ Monument to The Reef Resort.