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Caribbean prison officers in four-day workshop in The Bahamas

NASSAU, The Bahamas – Prison officers from around the region and internationally are in the Bahamas for the start of a four-day workshop to discuss the myriad of problems facing prisons everywhere, including overcrowding, recidivism and rehabilitation.

National Security Minister the Hon. O A ‘Tommy’ Turnquest welcomed the officers to the Bahamas on Tuesday and assured local prison officers that the government will do all in its power to bring about prison reform.

It was the first opportunity he had to speak to members of Her Majesty’s Prison services since the Bahamian people returned the Free National Movement (FNM) to office, May 2, and he was given ministerial portfolio for National Security with responsibilities for Immigration.

The sessions are held at the conference room at the headquarters of the Royal Bahamas Police Force, East Street.

He planned to “articulate my vision for prison reform” when he meets with Prison Officers again.

“I have a passion for prison reform and I have a great interest in ensuring that we improve conditions at the prison, both for inmates and for prisons staff,” said Mr. Turnquest the Member of Parliament for Mount Moriah.

“I shall be meeting with the Superintendent and relevant officers, including the Prison Staff Association, to share the vision of my government as articulated in our Trust Agenda and together, in a spirit of partnership, we will strategize and chart the way forward,” he said.

Prison Superintendent Dr. Elliston Rahming and other top brass at the Prison were in attendance. The officers will deal with the many problems common to prison around the region and internationally.

Mr. Turnquest said that the prison system in The Bahamas shared many of the challenges in prisons around the Caribbean.

“The challenges include ageing correctional infrastructure, severe over-crowding, outdated legislative and regulatory framework, limited funding for planned expansion and manifold human resource issues,” he said.

He expected delegates, in their discussions, to share emerging best practices, and to develop strategies to assist prison institutions in moving forward.

“In the Bahamas I am firmly committed to moving Her Majesty’s Prison towards acceptable international standards,” said Mr. Turnquest. “In fact, my government will systematically and resolutely implement our manifesto commitments to the Bahamian people.”

He also identified prison security, staff morale, a reduction in the rate of recidivism and “enhancing the prospects of successful re-integration of offenders upon completion of their sentence,” as other challenges delegates needed to address.

He said he intended to develop a prison system that was “more humane,” more “empowering” and “ennobling.”

Mr. Turnquest also called on all social partners to join hands in dealing with recidivism.

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