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Support For Inmates And Former Wards Key To Crime Prevention

Support For Inmates And Former Wards Key To Crime Prevention
Minister of State in the Ministry of National Security, Senator the Hon. Pearnel Charles, Jr. (FILE)

KINGSTON (JIS) -- State Minister for National Security, Senator the Hon. Pearnel Charles Jr., says the support inmates and former wards receive after they are released from institutions remains a key element of the Government’s crime-prevention strategy. “A great part of our investment is to focus on post-release progress,” Mr. Charles Jr. said, noting that by exposing these individuals to transformational rehabilitative programmes, they are less likely to reoffend. The State Minister was speaking at the opening ceremony for The Mico University College’s Research Day, at its Marescaux Road location in Kingston, on April 26. Senator Charles Jr. noted that the Ministry has a complementary approach to rehabilitation, through programmes that offer educational, technical and economic support, aimed at preventing crime.

“Our responsibility at the Ministry is not only to detect and to prosecute, but I think our primary investment must be in the prevention of crime,” he said.

The State Minister said the Government is aware that while a six-month programme cannot undo what persons have been exposed to for 16 to 36 years, it is a start to a second chance at a better life.

He pointed out that many inmates and former wards are provided with life-skills training in public speaking, drug-use prevention, performing arts, anger management, art and craft, art therapy, and jewellery making.

Senator Charles Jr. further noted that education is a tool the Government has used over the years to “reposition individuals away from crime and violence”, adding that the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) has been working to create a transformative space for education in the various institutions.

“We have several partnerships in the delivery of our strong education and literacy programmes. We have partnerships with Heart Trust/NTA for the delivery of skills training programmes in both adult and juvenile centres,” he said.

Mr. Charles Jr. pointed out that many offenders are also assisted with preparing for the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examination.

He said that young offenders are also supported under the ‘We Transform Youth Empowerment Rehabilitation Programme’, which is designed to equip young people in correctional care with the requisite skills, character, attitude and support to become productive law-abiding citizens in order to reduce recidivism.

A similar programme, dubbed ‘A New Path’, which is now in its second phase, is aimed at providing hope to marginalised young people who have come into conflict with the law, by providing them with the requisite skills necessary for reintegration.

The Minister noted that under the programme, persons are assigned to some of the wards that are leaving, so that they have consistent counselling and other support, including financial assistance.

“Just recently, we gave $400,000 in the form of a scholarship to one of our wards for her to start her own business,” he said.

The Mico’s Research Day was held under the theme ‘Education Reimagined: Towards a Solution for Crime and Violence’.

The event brought in stakeholders to discuss the role that education plays in dismantling crime. It facilitated practitioners and researchers from all levels of the education system to share their experiences, research and findings, to craft solutions to common challenges.