Cayman’s prison service is expanding vocational training for inmates to help rehabilitate the prisoners.

According to the Her Majesty’s Cayman Islands Prison Service Director Steven Barrett, Northward Prison’s rehabilitation unit will increase its catalogue of courses to include new workshops, including plumbing, electrical training, auto repairs and appliance repairs.

“We are keen to ensure that these work opportunities are integrated with our education portfolio,” he said. “It is less about the nature of the work, although that is important, but it is more about the competencies that will be developed for those who participate in these programmes; competencies that will be industry transferrable.”

Training will be provided by prison officers who are trained and certified to deliver the vocational courses, in conjunction with the University College of the Cayman Islands using City & Guilds and the Institute of the Motor Industry curriculum and certification, according to the prison service.

The full suite of programmes is scheduled to begin next month and run on a six-month cyclical basis. Inmates will complete all of the core competencies, such as basic math and English for the workplace, employability skills training, life skills, interpersonal skills, emotional intelligence, as well as the programmes which they are assessed to need as per psychological assessments, the Prison Service stated.

“This type of hands-on training can make a huge impact as it enables inmates to participate in apprenticeship programmes and connect with prospective employers, giving them access to jobs that provide reasonable salaries that help to stabilise their lives after release.”

Aduke Joseph-Caesar, deputy director of rehabilitation

The prison already runs a woodwork shop, an agricultural project and the ‘Fresh Start’ construction industry training programme. The Fresh Start programme, in which 14 inmates are currently enrolled, is run in collaboration with private sector partners Phoenix, Clan Construction and Encompass.

In 2018, 16 inmates enrolled in the Fresh Start rehabilitation programme, four of whom participated in the Release on Temporary License programme, which allowed them to be released into the community with certain restrictions once they secured employment with one of the Fresh Start companies.

The woodwork shop project trains inmates in health and safety, hand and power tool operations and the construction of items such as picnic tables, garbage can holders, park benches and swings. The prison service is also piloting a new course in barbering, which will provide inmates with the opportunity to gain a certification in that field.

The prison farm provides another training environment, where 15 inmates are currently receiving formal instruction in agricultural science. In 2018, crops from the farm earned $16,000 from sales to supermarkets and other local vendors. Focus is also placed on the cultivation of creative talents, and over the course of the last year, male and female inmates submitted 150 pieces of art and craft work to three different shows, according to the press release.

Deputy Director of Rehabilitation Aduke Joseph-Caesar said that the overall goal of vocational training is to reduce inmates’ risk of recidivating by teaching them marketable skills they can use to find and retain employment following release from prison.

“This type of hands-on training can make a huge impact as it enables inmates to participate in apprenticeship programmes and connect with prospective employers, giving them access to jobs that provide reasonable salaries that help to stabilise their lives after release,” she said. “In addition, some vocational training programmes include opportunities to put in man-hours which count towards industry-recognised credentials and certificates.”

The vocational training augments more traditional academic courses. Last year, more than 100 inmates completed online courses, five passed the Caribbean Examinations Certificate Exam, three completed tertiary education degrees in areas ranging from theology to continuing education, while three enrolled in higher learning. An additional 25 inmates completed university and college level certificates.

To facilitate the planned growth in training opportunities for inmates, the Prison Service is looking to expand on the number of community partnerships in which it engages, Home Affairs Minister Tara Rivers said in the release.

“The more public and private sector partnerships can be developed, the greater the ability to assist inmates with the transition from prison back into the community as fully contributing citizens. The Government is extremely grateful to those who have partnered with the Prison Service, and we look forward to expanding this network so that together we can reduce reoffending and the strain that it places on the criminal justice system, families and the community,” she said.

Public and private organisations interested in partnering with the prison service to support expanded training and work experience opportunities for inmates can contact Prison Director Barrett at [email protected]

Comments are closed.