Rehabilitating prisoners is top priority for new prison boss

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Great emphasis will be placed on the rehabilitation of prisoners under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Eugene Philip, because he wants them to be reintegrated into society rather than return to lives of crime.
The newly appointed Superintendent of Prisons said this in an exclusive interview with OBSERVER media, where he noted that this would be one of the key efforts during his tenure.
He said he is already aware of two major challenges that he has to face, will do his best to overcome them, and change the situation.
“The whole prison system really needs to be reviewed – the officers, the inmates and the whole treatment; like family response to the inmates. We do have some inmates whose families don’t show up to see them, whatever the circumstances might be. So in going forward it must be an approach whereby the prison officers, the family and other citizens need to be a part of our prison system as it relates to the rehabilitation of our prison inmates,” he said.
Lt. Col. Philip said that while many in society believe convicts should just be locked away for the duration of their sentences and ignored, in his view this is a recipe for disaster that would hurt society when the inmates are released.
So, apart from working to foster better relationships with the convicts’ families, effort would be made to get the buy-in from corporate society.
“There are persons in the general public who can render some support to our inmates in terms of having them rehabilitated [and] going back out into the society,” he said, while adding that he would be reaching out to those individuals in society.
“My plan and intention while they are here is to try and reform them and make them better citizens as they go back out into the community; and the prison officers can’t do it by themselves. Our government can’t do it by itself,” he emphasised.
Rehabilitation would focus on more than just skills training, but also changing mindsets, attitudes and behaviour.
Currently there are over 300 inmates at Her Majesty’s Prison, but only a few rehabilitation programmes there. Successive governments have admitted that there’s a need for a new facility with better conditions than those at the overcrowded jail.
In September last year, Attorney General Steadroy Benjamin said construction of a new prison should start in the first quarter of 2019.
Since the announcement (made during the opening of the law year) nothing has been said about that plan or whether the government finalised the deal with a company to carry out the work, which he indicated should have been done that same month.

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