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News : Bahamas Information Services Updates Last Updated: Feb 6, 2017 - 2:32:04 PM

Bahamas Prison signs with Canada
By Matt Maura, BIS
Jan 17, 2014 - 5:21:37 PM

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Prison Superintendent Patrick Wright (left) presents CSC Commissioner, Don Head, with one of several Bahamian gifts following the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding. The gifts were all handmade by inmates of Her Majesty's Prisons. (BIS Photo/PatrickHanna)

NASSAU, The Bahamas --- The recent signing of a Memorandum of Understanding(MOU) between the Correctional Services of Canada and Her Majesty’s Prisons will assist the Prison in facilitating the modernisation of the Bahamian penal system by bringing it in line with international conventions and best practices, Minister of National Security Dr. Bernard J. Nottage said.

“If the Prison is to fulfill its rehabilitative mandate, the men and women who work in Her Majesty’s Prison must be equipped to do their jobs professionally and effectively,” Dr. Nottage said.

“That is why the Government of The Bahamas is absolutely committed to developing and implementing training programmes aimed at building the skills, competencies and capabilities of those who help to deliver at all levels in the Prison Service.”

Dr. Nottage said the signing of the M.O.U. was but another step along the road to prison reform that will ultimately lead to a “safer society for us all and a more fulfilling environment for all those who work at Her Majesty’s Prison.”

“The primary intention of the Memorandum of Understanding is to establish a relationship between The Bahamas and Canada in the field of Corrections with the aim of sharing information and expertise. The MOU sets out a framework for cooperation, information sharing and technology transfer. Its intent is to facilitate the modernisation of our penal system to bring it in line with international conventions and practices.

“The Correctional Services of Canada will work with us to improve our policies, technology, security intelligence, correctional programmes, facility planning, research and evaluation, data gathering, training, and leadership development for prison.”Dr. Nottage said the success M.O.U. between Correctional Services of Canada and Her Majesty’s Prison will be measured in the extent to which it assists in the further development of Her Majesty’s Prisons as a correctional institution that assists inmates with realising their potential and in assuming their responsibility to become valued members o society.

“We are committed to bringing about genuine prison reform,” Dr. Nottage said. “We cannot be content with just warehousing inmates and operating a revolving door. Our mandate is clear. It is to ensure the operation of a safe, secure facility that is characterised by discipline and orderliness and one in which compassion and opportunity signal the way forward.”

Dr. Nottage said the MOU continues “the constructive and multi-facet relationship” already shared between The Bahamas and Canada.

“Canada and The Bahamas enjoy a constructive and multi-facet relationship based on shared Commonwealth history. Our countries also work closely in multilateral forums such as the United Nations and the Organisation of American States. On a bilateral basis, Canada has worked with the Bahamian police in battling organised crime through the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. This included the provision of a wide variety of law enforcement and counter-terrorism training via regional programming. On the Tourism front, The Bahamas receives between 115,000-131,000 Canadian tourists annually,” Dr. Nottage said.

“I thank the Government of Canada, and by extension the Correctional Services of Canada, for reaching out to The Bahamas to assist us in the development of our Correctional Services. I also congratulate the Superintendent of Prisons and his department for spearheading this initiative with the Correctional Services of Canada,” Dr. Nottage added.

Minister of National Security, Dr. the Hon. Bernard J.Nottage (left) congratulates CSC Commissioner Mr. Don Head at the conclusion of the signing of the MOU. DR. Nottage applauded both groups for the collaboration which he says will help to modernize the Bahamian penal system. (BIS Photo/Patrick Hanna)

Nottage says new 'shift' in prison reform already producing results

By Matt Maura,  Bahamas Information Services

NASSAU, The Bahamas --- A new approach to prison reform implemented at Her Majesty’s Prisons is already producing positive results as violence against staff by inmates of the facility “has never been lower”, Minister of National Security, Dr. Bernard J. Nottage said.

Dr. Nottage said the new shift has also resulted in a decrease in the rate of recidivism and a decrease in the rate of escapes. Staff retention, he said, has also been bolstered by the new policy.

“In recent times the Prison has undergone a philosophical shift that emphasises strict security, not in the context of harsh treatment, poor conditions and dehumanisation, but rather strict security in an atmosphere of empowerment, upliftment, broad-based opportunity, individual responsibility and institution-wide accountability. We believe this formula is working,” Dr. Nottage said.

“We are committed to bringing about genuine prison reform. We cannot be content with just warehousing inmates and operating a revolving door.”

Dr. Nottage said the Government of The Bahamas is committed to reforming Her Majesty’s Prisons as “we are firmly of the view that a penal system that focuses on correction and rehabilitation will contribute to a safer and more secure country.”He said while there is still a “long way to go” in meeting the facility’s mandate which is to ensure the operation of a safe, secure facility that is characterised by discipline and orderliness and one in which compassion and opportunity signal the way forward, the facility has come a long way.”

“The rehabilitation thrust has been ongoing and wide in scope (and) encompasses inmate classification (to ensure that inmates of a similar risk and inclinations are housed together); proper sentence planning; a wide range of technical, vocational and academic programmes; attitude adjustment and behaviour modification programmes; a day release work programme as well as faith-based initiatives.”

Dr. Nottage said the unveiling of the new baseball facility constructed on the grounds of the Prison (Saturday, January 18) will provide yet another avenue for “the wholesome engagement of inmates with fellow inmates and with the general community.”Built to Major League Baseball standards, the construction of the diamond is the First Phase of a comprehensive plan that will result in the construction of a Mini Sporting Complex that will also include facilities for track and field, basketball, tennis, and “many of the major sporting activities.”

Superintendent of Prisons, Patrick Wright, said the construction of the baseball diamond and the mini sporting complex, is part of the Government of The Bahamas’ move towards the facility serving as a correctional institution rather than a penal institution.Mr. Wright said while the facility will retain its punitive side, the construction of the sporting complex will allow it to advance its correctional side and allow for greater interaction between the facility, its staff and inmates and members of the general public.“For 70 years society has been locked out, or Her Majesty’s Prison has been viewed in such a way, that the re-integration of our inmates into society has not achieved the kind of results that we would have wanted because our former inmates would have been viewed as outcasts and that is one of the reasons I believe recidivism is so high.” Mr. Wright said.

“This move, and some of the others we have on the drawing board, will allow us to correct that. It allows us to foster and develop new relationships between the prison and society, particularly families,” Mr. Wright added.

Superintendent Wright said children in the eastern New Providence, staff and inmates will benefit “tremendously” from the construction of the baseball facility and ultimately sporting “There are a number of benefits to the construction of the sporting complex. One, it will provide more access to greater, structural recreation based on international standards and best practices; Secondly, it will help to further instil discipline, such as the kind that is associated with the various sports such as baseball, basketball, tennis and track and field into our inmates, and it will provide recreation and training for our staff.

“It will also allow us, as the third arm of the national security network of our country, to play a role in reducing crime and criminality in the country,” Mr. Wright added.

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