JIS:– MINISTER of state in the Ministry of National Security Rudyard Spencer has called on heads of correctional services in the Caribbean to work more closely to transform the delivery of service and the lives of inmates.
Addressing the Association of Caribbean Heads of Corrections and Prison Services (ACHCPS) Conference 2018 at the Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston on Monday, Spencer said it is through collaboration that the nations can learn from each other and improve service delivery.
“You are meeting at a time when we need to be working towards one aim, speaking with one voice, and setting goals and co-opting partners on the journey to one destiny – peaceful, progressive and prosperous societies,” Spencer said.
“Globally, we continue to see the theme of cooperation and collaboration being essential to successfully confronting and overcoming existing challenges and emerging threats. Though we are many islands separated by land and sea, there should be no distance in sharing resources, knowledge and best practices,” he added.
Spencer argued that transformation on all levels, whether within structure of their organisations or in the lives of inmates, requires good leaders, and encouraged the members of ACHCPS to be integral in the process.
“Transformation requires leaders who are innovators, leaders who inspire and leaders who understand the need for social and economic inclusion of inmates and wards,” the state minister said.
“They are not necessarily bad for being bad’s sake, but made poor life choices and need to be given the chance to reform their thinking, and the tools to make better decisions,” he added.
Spencer highlighted a few of the achievements of some of the correctional service departments across the Caribbean region, which included the work of Cayman’s Department of Community Rehabilitation, where they expanded the gender-specific services offered to female offenders, and established the Female Empowerment Services Project; the partnership between Jamaica and the Organization of American States with the project, ‘A New Path: Promoting a Healthy Environment and Productive Alternatives for Juvenile Remandees and Offenders’; and the Agricultural Self-Sufficiency Programme, where all correctional institutions in Jamaica, except the Horizon Adult Remand Centre, are engaged in agricultural production.
The four-day conference will bring together delegates from 22 member countries across the region, representatives from the International Corrections and Prisons Association, and guests from the Netherlands, United States and Namibia.
Some of the topics to be discussed include leadership essentials for transforming prisons and correctional services; radicalisation in prisons; and building intelligence: opportunities and challenges of drone technology for Caribbean-based correctional facilities.
The conference is being held under the theme ‘Transforming Prisons and Correctional Services for Regional Development’.