Prison chiefs are partnering with Cayman’s new trade school to provide training opportunities for inmates in an effort to end the “revolving door syndrome” and help cut crime.
Though there is no reliable data on recidivism rates for Cayman’s prisoners, prison director Steven Barrett said there were considerable issues with the same people re-offending.
He said helping inmates develop job skills and access career opportunities was one way of preventing them going back to a life of crime.
“No one should come into prison and leave without us having made a positive impact in their lives,” he said.
“One of the ways we do that is to find them employment – not just a job, but a meaningful sustainable career path.”
He said the link with Inspire Cayman Training, set up by former government worker and anti-crime advocate Michael Myles, who he described as “a social champion”, was a “no-brainer”.
Myles has set up a training centre, accredited through the US-based National Centre for Construction Education and Research, that will offer courses in construction, carpentry and air conditioning repair, among others.
Six prison officers are being certified as instructors, and will deliver the same curriculum in the prison.
Barrett said he hopes to put 60 prisoners through the various programmes in the first year of the partnership.
Once inmates return to society, they will be able to continue their courses at the new centre on Eastern Avenue and will get help to find work.
“This isn’t a programme that ends in prison,” said Barrett.
“When inmates leave Northward, that isn’t the end of our responsibility. We have a social responsibility to ensure their transition back into the community is successful.
“One of the reasons people fall back into crime is a sense of hopelessness about what the future looks like. If we can change that in some way then we may just prevent someone becoming a future victim of crime.”
Myles said his aim with the training centre was to help both young Caymanians and older people, including inmates, get the training and job skills they need for successful and lucrative careers in the trades.
He said there were 27,000 work permit holders in Cayman, many in trades that could be filled by Caymanians if they got the right training.
Myles, who was an at-risk youth officer for government, said he got tired of watching kids graduate and get caught up in crime and in the court system. He said providing good career options was integral to preventing crime.
The school’s programmes will also focus on personal skills, including job-readiness, debt management and conflict resolution in the workplace.