More than 110 inmates at Northward received commendations for showing personal initiative, during Prisoner Recognition Day at the prison.
The prisoners who were recognized late last month had taken part in rehabilitative offerings at the prison, including vocational training, work activities, chaplaincy, and individual and group intervention programs. Ten inmates received special awards for outstanding achievement, having successfully completed four or more of these programs.
Aduke Joseph-Caesar, deputy director of rehabilitation, urged inmates to look inward, to recognize their duty to society and to seek to exercise still more personal responsibility. She added that they should be appreciative for the opportunities given, which would in turn allow an anxiety-free life for all concerned.
Northward Prison officials said this year 15 programs were offered, including IT, math, English, parenting education, drug abuse prevention, employment skills and anger management. Training was also offered in several crafts and vocational pursuits.
According to prisons director Neil Lavis, two former inmates are now in full-time jobs because of the early release program. Of the seven inmates in the program, three have since left the prison – one of the three was deported, but two have full-time jobs and one is a volunteer worker. None has re-offended, Mr. Lavis said.
“It is difficult,” he said. “My efforts have been to get local businesses engaged. There is a willingness to support what I am doing, but it is a tough economy.
“If the general public is struggling to get jobs it is even tougher for people with a criminal record. These people will be coming out in the community. If I can help them to get a job and get them off crime, there will be less victims.”
As for re-offenders, Mr. Lavis said, [statistics are not very scientific] but 70 percent of convicted criminals are finding themselves back in prison.
“The older people get, the less likely to re-offend. Oftentimes it is either from meeting a partner, getting married, having children and finding that sense of responsibility,” he said. “This sometimes gives them the urge to change …we can put all the programs in place in the world, but if the inmate is not ready to change, we cannot succeed.”
Mr. Lavis noted that drugs and mental health issues also related to drugs are two of the biggest factors for offenders and re-offending criminals.
There are a total of 179 prisoners currently: 166 inmates in Northward Prison and 13 in Fairbanks Prison for women.
Of the 179, 145 are Caymanians, 34 are foreign nationals and three are under adult age. They are being housed in a separate wing and will be moved back into Eagle House (presently being renovated) when completed, Mr. Lavis said. Northward can accommodates up to 209 prisoners, he said.