Dames: Corrections dept. moving in the right direction

Dames: Corrections dept. moving in the right direction
Minister of National Security Marvin Dames speaks to the media outside of Cabinet. (FILE PHOTO)

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Minister of National Security Marvin Dames said yesterday that the government is working on multiple initiatives at the Bahamas Department of Corrections to help improve the facility and ensure rehabilitative measures are implemented.

Speaking to reporters outside Cabinet, Dames said among those initiatives is the early release program of those inmates who continue to show that they are making tremendous progress.

He also noted that they have been working on an inmate management system with the Citizens Security & Justice Program and are also “looking at the parole program”.

Additionally, Dames said the government has been working on a school independence and security program with the Ministry of Agriculture to look at the long term sustainment within the institution itself.

The national security minister also pointed to the facility’s BTVI program that helps inmates to learn skills to improve themselves and put them “on par with other skilled persons out there in our community”.

“We’ve been doing a tremendous amount of work,” Dames continued.

“But this is no short term initiative or program, this is long term, but we are pleased with the progress that we have been making and that we continue to make.

“From all of the numbers and statistics that we continue to compile, we are moving in the right direction with much work ahead of us.”

We have the program at BTVI. We are working on upgrading the institution. The BTVI program is exceptional because it’s giving the inmates skills to better improve themselves and putting them on par with other skilled persons out there in our community.

A recent Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) report has revealed that The Bahamas has the highest rate of imprisonment per capita when compared to other countries in the Caribbean.

The report, which was released this month, examines survey data collected from 3,528 inmates in six Caribbean countries: The Bahamas (2016), Barbados (2018), Guyana (2017), Jamaica (2018), Suriname (2018), and Trinidad and Tobago (2018).

The IDB’s comparative report outlines findings and recommendations for the urgent need for prison reform across the Caribbean and offers directions to Caribbean governments as they consider the role of prisons in creating safer and more just societies.

The recommendations advised Caribbean governments to prioritize reducing the prison population; expand and strengthen rehabilitation and reintegration programs; and implement more cohesive public safety strategies that balance prevention and control and incorporate the wealth of empirical evidence that is available.

Governments in those countries have also been advised to address the high levels of physical and sexual violence occurring within the facilities, where many inmates have either been victimized or witnessed others being victimized.

As of June 30, 2019, there were 2,558 admitted inmates with facilities capacity being 1,000 persons, according to an auditor’s general report.

The total number of staff amounts to 734  – of which 715 are uniformed and 19 are non-uniformed.