Prison boss says recidivism on the decline

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There has been a drop in the number of repeat offenders returning to Her Majesty’s Prison (HMP), according to Albert Wade, the superintendent of prisons.
Wade told OBSERVER media, yesterday, that the likelihood of convicted inmates or newly released remandees returning is now approximately three in every 10, which is less than the previous estimated 50 to 60 percent.
 “There are some persons that you know will come back, so you don’t have to worry about them, then there are some that it’s 50/50 and then there are those who you know it would have to be something extreme for them to return. Recidivism is down and we are not seeing as many reoffending,” he said.
There are approximately 130 holding cells at HMP and Wade said, ideally, it should be one prisoner per cell; however, up to yesterday morning, the prison population was 305.
While overcrowding has been a challenge at the prison that would have had 10-12 inmates in one cell, Wade said that there was no correlation to the prison conditions being a deterrent for repeat offenders.
“When you look at Norway, which has probably the best prison in the world, they have television, kitchen, they use knives, forks, they do everything, almost like Club Med and recidivism [there] is the lowest in the world, and you have some countries where the conditions are worse than Antigua and recidivism is much higher,” Wade posited.
He credited the drop in the number of repeat offenders here to the prison rehabilitation programmes and the willingness of corporate Antigua and Barbuda to give newly released prisoners an opportunity to get a second chance.
Wade noted that previously, a police character reference with convictions was a sure rejection for a released inmate seeking employment, but now employers are more open to engaging skilled convicts.
“Because of the various programmes people view convicts in a different light. A high percentage of discharged inmates — those who have a trade — are ambitious or want to do something [so] they get employment.
“I would like to applaud corporate Antigua for their trust and faith in the process,” he said.
He argued that while lawyers, in their bid to get their clients released, tend to tell magistrates and judges that there are no rehabilitation programmes in the prison, the Home Advancement Programme for the Indigent (HAPPI) and Men Against Negative Attitudes (MANA) are changing the lives of former inmates.

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