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|BMF expands community computer centre network to Nassau|
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|Posted by:||May 16th 2005, 10:13:31 am|
|Briland Modem Fund Team||Briland Modem Fund community computer centre network expands to Nassau with the launch of the vocational training centre at Fox Hill Prison:
Prison Gets New Correctional Centre
There is a new avenue for reform at Her Majesty’s Prison thanks to a state-of-the-art correctional centre and vocational institute officially opened on Thursday.
The new facility will allow for inmates to study several courses, including life management skills, computer literacy, electronics, BJC mathematics and English, BGSE mathematics, basic literacy, adult basic education, straw and shell craft, welding and entrepreneurial skills.
In addition, officials at the prison indicated that plans are being made to include attitude and behavior adjustment programmes in conflict resolution, anger management, substance abuse education, parenting skills, money management, victim awareness and marriage enrichment.
Acting Prime Minister and Minister of National Security Cynthia Pratt believes that the programmes will have a significant effect on crime in The Bahamas.
"Her Majesty’s Prison is now in transition," she declared.
"Make no mistake about it. Security and safe custody [are] still our predominant duty and priority. Yet we know that if you simply lock them up and throw away the key, 98 percent of the inmates will return to society anyway, the same as when they entered prison."
Government officials have long expressed concerns about the need for reform at the Fox Hill facility, which they contend would reduce the high rate of recidivism, which stands at around 70 percent.
It’s why Prime Minister Perry Christie appointed the Prison Reform Commission shortly after coming to office in 2002.
The government later appointed the Commission’s Chairman Dr. Elliston Rahming Superintendent of Prisons.
At the new correction centre, inmates will be able to learn plumbing, carpentry, welding, small engine repair and electrical motor controls through computer courses.
Minister Pratt said upon completion of the computer courses, the inmates will move on to the practical application of their new found knowledge in the various work programmes and trade shops.
"The new education building has accommodated three staff development seminars, several academic programmes for inmates and some 50 new recruits are using the facility for 10 weeks of basic training," Minister Pratt said.
During the opening ceremony of the correctional training institute, the official re-launching of the Intake Facility also took place.
It will accommodate new inmates.
The prisoners are housed in this section of the prison for between seven to 14 days before being placed in another unit depending on the severity of their crimes.
Authorities explained that at the Intake Facility, they are able to learn more about the inmates’ health and education level and conduct a psychosocial diagnosis.
"The idea is to ensure that apples are with apples and guavas are with guavas. The random mixing of inmates, the remorseful with the unrepentant, the hardened with the pliable must now become the practice of a bygone era," Minister Pratt said.
Inmates at the prison will now be divided into one of nine housing classifications: super maximum, maximum, high medium, medium, minimum, mental health supervision, juveniles, remand and female.
The super maximum unit will house inmates sentenced to death, life or those sentenced to 20 years or longer as well as those who are considered true escape risks.
The maximum-security unit will house inmates sentenced for dangerous violent offences such as rape, armed robbery with violence, drug offences or multiple recidivists.
The high-medium unit applies to inmates convicted of armed robbery where no violence was involved; manslaughter; persons serving life sentences, but have graduated from the super maximum unit and persons convicted of assault; child abuse; conspiracy; extortion; incest; arson’ auto theft and drug possession of small quantities.
Persons convicted of robbery, burglary, house and shop breaking, bigamy, gambling, forgery, perjury, fraud, concealed firearm possession, are housed in the medium unit.
The minimum unit will house persons convicted of such crimes as vagrancy, trespassing, civil offences, loitering, littering, resisting arrest, public nuisance, offensive language, stealing and poaching.
Minister Pratt indicated that as part of the classification process, inmates will also be subjected to wearing colour-coded armbands that will serve as an identification badge for institutional purposes and in the event of an escape.
"In addition, consideration is being given to changing inmates’ uniforms from the civilian looking blue to a yellow jumpsuit for sentenced inmates, orange jumpsuits for those on remand and light blue for those who are in work programmes," Minister Pratt added.
According to the minister the prison inmates are being classified for the first time and are being placed in their respective units.
She said that this effort represents a giant step forward for the institution, as it is well known that proper classification rests at the very cornerstone of any correctional rehabilitative effort.
Dr. Rahming, meanwhile, said the opening of the correctional centre marks an exciting time at the prison when many changes are being made to better reform the prisoners.
"You have come at a most propitious time in the history of Her Majesty’s Prison, a time of renewal and transformation, a time of further expansion and excitement, a time when we believe again that we can make a difference, a time when we are aggressively indeed relentlessly in search of new vistas of knowledge," Dr. Rahming said.
Prison officials said 1,470 inmates are currently incarcerated at the prison.
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