Inmates volunteer for Barkers clean-up

Prisoners rake sand and collect garbage at Barkers Beach.

Barkers Beach in West Bay received a thorough cleaning in time for Christmas thanks to a group of inmates from Northward and Fairbanks prisons.

Bags full of plastic flotsam and other rubbish stretched out along Barkers Beach ready to be collected as inmates and staff worked quickly through the clean-up on Saturday, 14 Dec., according to a press release.

“We are very happy that this programme could start before Christmas. This beach will be utilised by people during the holidays. We hope that it is something we can work with the prison to see happen on a regular basis,” said Minister for Home Affairs and MLA for West Bay South Tara Rivers.

“As a government, we’re very keen to enhance the rehabilitation offerings at Northward Prison to make sure that while the prisoners are there they do something productive and constructive and give back to society. In many ways, I think this will help them to reconnect with the environment we hope that they will transition to once they have been released,” Rivers said in the release.

Five staff members and 18 inmates volunteered to rake, shovel and bag debris as part of a programme run by the Cayman Islands Prison Service intended to give inmates the opportunity to do something positive for their community.

“These people have caused significant harm to communities. It’s important to us, but also important to them, to take steps to repay and undo some of the harm they have caused, as well as to generate self-esteem through purposeful activity and gain a sense of well-being,” Prisons Director Steven Barrett said.

The beach clean-up is part of a rehabilitation programme for inmates.

The inmates who volunteered from HMP Northward were from the recently enhanced rehabilitation unit, which functions as a halfway house for low-risk inmates coming to the end of their sentences, and supports them through their transition back to life in the community.

The majority of those in the unit are already working outside the prison during the work week, and return to Northward in the evenings and weekends.

According to Barrett, the inmates were more than happy to give up their leisure time for the Barkers project. “This is all part of a broader strategy to reconnect people with communities and also to reconnect communities with us,” he said.

The prison service has a long-running programme of projects to support the community and prepare inmates to re-enter the community at the end of their sentences.

Early next year, the plan is to undertake its most ambitious project yet, which will involve the renovation of a property in East End, the release stated.

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