The 1st Cohort of the Citizen Security and Justice Programme Graduation Ceremony for the Bahamas Techincal & Vocational Institute yesterday at the Bahamas Department of Corrections.
By MORGAN ADDERLEY
Tribune Staff Reporter
A ceremony was held yesterday at the Bahamas Department of Correctional Services in honour of the first cohort of inmates to graduate from a training and certification programme at the Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute (BTVI).
More than 100 inmates received certification in a wide array of areas, including electrical installation, hair dressing, information technology, garment manufacturing and auto mechanics.
Upon release, these certificates will also allow participants to enrol in BTVI to further their level of education.
The programme is an initiative of a larger project called the Citizen Security and Justice Programme (CSJP), which is funded by a $3.4m Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) loan.
During his remarks, National Security Minister Marvin Dames described the CSJP as a “multi-faceted crime prevention programme”.
“The ministry applied part of the proceeds of the loan to contract the Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute to provide training that will lead to the certification of a total of 600 inmates and six corrections officers over the next two years,” he added.
“The training courses used existing curricula, and participants were assessed by BTVI instructors in a manner commensurate with students on its main campus. The vocational training will be followed by three months of work experience in maintenance and repair on the BDOC’s compound.
“To ensure sustainability of the programme, six selected correctional officers are undergoing training that will equip them to function as certified vocational instructors at the Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute, working within the prison environment on a full-time basis. Selected prison industries will also be upgraded with modernized equipment to support this training initiative.”
Through this initiative, the government hopes to reduce the recidivism rate in the country. Following the ceremony, Mr Dames could not give reporters any specific figures regarding this rate, adding: “Whatever they are, we can continue to say they’re too high...and our goal is to reduce recidivism rates to almost zero.”
Mr Dames also called for the public to assist with this goal by re-examining its perception of former inmates.
“The community must also continue to examine its attitude toward ex-offenders and provide much-needed support as many former inmates face barriers to successful reintegration into society.”
Ronald Simmons, an inmate who completed the electrical installation course, expressed his gratitude during the ceremony.
“Our gratitude surpasses words and will be expressed in our contribution to the development of our country,” he said.
Camille Mackey, a graduate of the computer course, described the programme as “very inspirational and educational”.
Ms Mackey, who is set to be released next July, said she dreams of starting her own magazine. She noted the programme helped her learn about the technical aspect of computers, which will help her with her work.
Regarding the programme, she said: “I think it’s very important…because…a lot of people, they come out of prison and they’re not given an opportunity based on them being incarcerated and I think that this is gonna help them so that people will understand that they actually accomplish something in prison and that they can give them an opportunity.”