The Bahamas Department of Correctional Services.
By KHRISNA RUSSELL
Tribune Chief Reporter
PASTOR Carlos Reid has described the government’s newly announced Second Chance jobs programme as a “past due” initiative, one he believes that could spark a decline in the recidivism rate among offenders.
In the Speech from the Throne delivered last Wednesday, the Davis administration committed to the creation of the jobs programme as a means to allow people who served time in prison to enter the jobs market.
As a part of the Second Chance programme, the government said it will expunge the records of those young people convicted of minor offences related to the use of marijuana so that they may more easily rejoin the formal, productive economy.
In 2019, the recidivism rate at the Bahamas Department of Correctional Services was said to be 17 percent.
Speaking of the promised jobs programme, Pastor Reid said for a long time, the government has not acted in a way that facilitates rehabilitation for offenders.
“I think that is past due,” he said. “We are spending as a nation $20,000 a year on every inmate that is incarcerated, and they sit down there all day and do nothing.
“I believe if you have somebody for five, 10 years you ought to prepare them to be able to enter back into society because they will enter back into society. When a person leaves prison and they’re not prepared they are going right back to all they know.
“We have an opportunity where we could be able to make sure that the recidivism rate goes down by making sure that we teach these persons something or prepare them to be able to survive in the society out here. I believe that everybody deserves a second chance, but that person has to be worthy of that second chance.”
Pastor Reid praised the government for making the commitment.
“To have the government mention it this says that this government is more concerned about people and that’s the approach that we need to take. When you even look at what the Minister of National Security (Wayne Munroe) said the other day - the stopping the parading in the front of the courts - we needed to stop those things long time.
“There are some things that we are doing as an administration that’s not lending to reducing crime and violence in this country and I believe that these things are going to play a pivotal role in us reversing that.
“We can’t continue to spend millions and millions of dollars just housing people up to the prison. We call it the Department of Corrections but there are no corrections up there.”
He continued: “A lot of these young men that are going into the prison we talk about rehabilitating them but how can we rehabilitate what has never been habilitated? A lot of them don’t know. So, when we look at the Second Chance, it’s what we should have been doing all along, giving them a second chance.”