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Prison parole programme to begin with Grand Bahama inmates

DOAN Cleare, the acting commissioner of corrections.

DOAN Cleare, the acting commissioner of corrections.

By DENISE MAYCOCK

Tribune Freeport Reporter

dmaycock@tribunemedia.net

ACTING Prison Commissioner Doan Cleare said government expects to soon announce the commencing of parole for inmates, starting first in Grand Bahama.

According to the prison official, discussions are being held with Grand Bahama Port Authority officials to identify housing for inmates released on parole.

“Government will announce very soon the starting of parole,” he said recently in Grand Bahama. “It is our intention to start in GB because GB has less inmates at the Bahamas Department of Correctional Services, and the offences are not as high as New Providence.”

Mr Cleare said the persons from Grand Bahama are normally sent to prison for stealing, burglary, “and one or two murders may happen sometimes”.

“As you know 99.9 percent of inmates are released, and out of that about 14.2 percent are from GB,” he reported.

“We are now in talks with the Port Authority to identify housing for inmates to go into once released from prison and it is our job once parole starts to find them employment.”

“And hopefully by us getting them jobs and training them before they come out, the level of reoffending will be lessened.”

During a recruitment exercise in Grand Bahama on Thursday, Commissioner Cleare noted the Bahamas Department of Correctional Services will be undergoing changes, moving from the punitive model.

“We are now implementing a new correctional model at Dept of Corrections. We are doing away with the punitive-type system and implementing a true form of corrections,” he said.

“By doing so, we are now hiring professional staff,” Mr Cleare said, adding that just last week two full-time psychiatrists and psychologists, food and nutrition dietician, occupational therapists, and 14 new teachers were hired.

“Our goal is to put at least 100 inmates per day in various classes at the BDOCS,” he said.

Under this new model, the acting commissioner said every inmate will be fully classified and must fulfill a sentence plan that will be created for each of them.

“If you come in for rape, we will put you in anger management and various other programmes, including a sexual offence programme so at the end of the day you will have a whole cadre of training to reprogramme your mind not to reoffend again. Once finished with programming, then case management and pre-release,” he explained.

Mr Cleare said the government will also announce soon construction of a new model prison facility.

“I can assure you in short order the Minister of National Security and the Prime Minister will be making an announcement on the new facility at BDOCS.

“This facility - will be one of the most modern facilities in the world, and we have gotten input from Canada, and the American Correctional Association,” he said.

“This will be an accredited facility. Florida has two of the three accredited facilities, and once completed, the Bahamas will have the first one outside the US. To accomplish this goal, we are looking for a diverse staff complement.”

Mr Cleare indicated that the facility will have “the most modern Psychiatric Ward, better than Sandilands.”

He said the new facility will have cells made of steel. It will also have a study room, bathroom, shower and “nice beds,” which are currently not at the BDOCS.

Mr Cleare said training for the inmates is mandatory and they must leave with a skill. There also will be academic courses available for free.

“If you do not want academic qualifications, you must do carpentry, plumbing, masonry, etc. - no more coming in prison now. Our philosophy has changed, and we are now about rehabilitation.”

“That is why the government of the Bahamas is about to embark on one of the largest capitalized investments in the history of the Bahamas in the Bahamas Department of Corrections.”

Prison Corporal Detrice McCardy, public relations director, said it is important for them to form partnership with corporate Bahamas.

“We can’t do it alone, and these individuals will come back in the community, and we all have a role to play to give these offenders a second chance. That is the only way we can stop them from reoffending.

“So, that is all our responsibility. We call on corporate Bahamas to partner with us in our effort,” she said.

Comments

Sickened 1 year, 5 months ago

Have you ever thought about releasing the young men in prison for a joint and non-violent crimes so that we can keep the murderers locked up instead? Just my common sense talking - sorry if it doesn't make sense to you.

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