Caribbean Prison Chiefs discuss strategies to manage inmates

BASSETERRE, St. Kitts – Superintendent of Her Majesty’s Prison, Mr. Franklyn Dorset and other members of the Association of Caribbean Heads of Corrections and Prison Services (ACHCPS) are devising strategies to change the way inmates are managed upon incarceration.

This is amongst issues being addressed at the Fourth Annual Conference of the Association of Caribbean Heads of Corrections and Prison Services, under the theme: ‘Meeting the Challenges of Corrections in 2010 and Beyond: A Caribbean Perspective,” at SuperClubs Breezes from June 19-25, 2010.

According to the Bahamas Weekly, the mission of ACHCPS is to “promote the professional development of all personnel involved in the various facets of corrections; striving also to ensure that the best policies and procedures are in place to meet the needs of correctional/prison environment in individual countries and the region as a whole.”

The areas identified for particular focus during the conference are strengthening of laws, polices and principles, and to bring about institutional and other change.

Other initiatives are to build and maintain productive and effective networks and partnerships, both regionally and internationally, which the ACHCPS advocates.

Bahamas Acting Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hon. Brent Symonette in his Keynote Address on Monday said the conference is important to maintaining the momentum of the regional association, formed four years ago.

He said however that the association has made steady progress in an area of critical concern for the region, as its approach is evident from the overall theme of the weeklong conclave.

“The objectives that your association has set for itself, and for this conference, will undoubtedly further the longstanding strategic and cooperative relationships among Caribbean states, particularly in the context of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM),” Mr. Symonette said.

“Regional cooperative relations are a logical outgrowth of the convergence of the interest of our countries, and the similarity of the challenges we face over a broad spectrum of economic, social, cultural and related areas.” He said that national security, particularly crime prevention and criminal justice is one such priority area in which the interest of CARICOM countries converges, and for the most part experience the same challenges.

“For decades, international drug traffickers have disregarded our national borders. Primarily by sea, but also by air, they ply their illicit and deadly cargoes between our countries as though our borders had been erased,” Mr. Symonette said.

According to a Report of the United Nations Officer on Drugs and Crime, and the World Bank, the drug trade established a platform for other trans-national crime that might impact the region, particularly arms trafficking and migrant smuggling.

“Much of this trans-national crime translates into crime in our communities and on the streets, including violent crimes. It also impacts our prison population,” he said.

Prison reform is essential to this process, he said, as it helps to meet the challenges of corrections now and in the future, from a Caribbean perspective.

He said The Bahamas is of the view that that the association’s advocacy work should also include promoting the use of new and emerging technological advances in corrective services.

“We are set to introduce electronic monitoring of offenders, which is expected to help reduce the prison population. We are appreciative for the cooperation received from the government of Jamaica, as we move forward with our Electronic Monitoring Programme,” Mr. Symonette said.

The opening ceremony was also addressed by Dr Elliston Rahming, Superintendent of Prisons and Conference Host and Chairman of the Education Committee, ACHCPS; Dale Erskine, Secretary, ACHCPA; and John Rougier, Commissioner, Trinidad & Tobago Prison Service and President of ACHCPS.

Governor General Sir Arthur Foulkes lead the list of dignitaries, consisting of Secretary to the Cabinet Anita Bernard; senior officials from the uniform branches, and delegates from the member countries.

Other countries present include Antigua & Barbuda, Belize, the Cayman Islands, Dominica, Guyana, Jamaica, Montserrat, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent & The Grenadines and Trinidad & Tobago.

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