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Griffin promotes rehabilitation as means of ‘modifying behaviours’
By Matt Maura, BIS
Nov 8, 2013 - 4:57:49 PM

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NASSAU, The Bahamas --- Rehabilitation and the involvement of the entire Bahamian community are two main prerequisites for reversing the deviant behaviours of many of the country’s delinquent youth, Minister of Social Services and Community Development, the Hon. Melanie S. Griffin said.

Addressing the launch of Rehabilitation Week, 2013, Mrs. Griffin said while the Department of Rehabilitative/Welfare Services will continue to ensure that the processes, strategies and support systems are in place in order to steer persons, particularly young people, from a life of crime, it cannot do it alone.

(Rehabilitation Week is scheduled for November 11-16 throughout the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.)

Minister Griffin said while the Department was “grateful”  for the collaborations that currently exists with its partners who currently assist with strengthening programmes and services and who serve as support systems for their clientele, it was her hope that other civic organisations take on an increasing role in the lives of the country’s youth.

“It is imperative that we assist in developing positive qualities within the family which is the foundation of society and within the community to which they belong,” Mrs. Griffin said.

“Young people need our attention and concern before they get involved in serious trouble as well as the aftermath. If they are provided with access to appropriate and sustainable services, many potentially troubled youngsters can avoid delinquent behaviour.

“It requires the involvement of the entire community as delinquent behaviours are not only influenced by what goes on in the home, but also by what youth observe in adults; what they listen to, and what they learn from peers, relatives and society at-large,” Mrs. Griffin added.

Mrs. Griffin said successful rehabilitation means stronger families, safer communities and the potential for ex-offenders to become law-abiding citizens.

“I am aware that there are still some persons who do not support the concept of rehabilitation and feel that most, if not all offenders, should be locked up and kept away from society for the remainder of their lives (while) others may regard rehabilitation as a means of being lenient with offenders,” Mrs. Griffin said.

“We all accept that persons who contravene the law must be dealt with in accordance with the law. In some instances, this may involve the payment of a fine or a period of incarceration in a designated correctional facility while in other instances it may involve the persons being placed on probation or even given a conditional discharge.

“Whatever the decision may be regarding the manner in which an offender is dealt with, there should always be the opportunity for rehabilitation as a means of helping to prevent the reoccurrence of offending (as) the reality is that a significant number of persons confined to prison will some day return to society and the experiences, while confined, will impact their functioning upon release.

“It is therefore imperative that confined persons are treated humanely and given opportunities for rehabilitation so that there is modification in the behaviour upon release of individuals who are in conflict with the law.”

Minister Griffin said a series of activities have been coordinated during rehabilitation Week to continue “sensitising the public on the necessity of rehabilitation.”

Events scheduled for the week include a church service; presentations at various schools to inform students on crime prevention while empowering them to make good decisions; for a top to inform parents/guardians about juvenile crime, causes and behaviours and of the services offered by the Department of Rehabilitative/Welfare Services for children and families.

Staff training and development sessions will also be held at the Simpson Penn Centre for Boys and Willie Mae Pratt Centre for Girls to heighten staff awareness on safety and protection when dealing with at-risk juveniles and to provide them with the necessary skills to “effectively manage juvenile delinquents.”

“The department continues to place emphasis on reducing re-offending and is continuously exploring ways to enhance its intervention programmes to rehabilitate offenders and to equip them with skills to avoid further involvement in the criminal justice system,” Mrs. Griffin added.

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