0

Prisoner Reform Key To End Jail Crisis

Marvin Dames, Minister of National Security. Photo: Terrel W. Carey Sr/Tribune Staff

Marvin Dames, Minister of National Security. Photo: Terrel W. Carey Sr/Tribune Staff

By Morgan Adderley

Tribune Staff Reporter

madderley@tribunemedia.net

TO solve the issue of overcrowding at the Bahamas Department of Correctional Services, National Security Minister Marvin Dames said his ministry is primarily focused on reducing the number of inmates, rather than building additional cells.

Mr Dames made these comments on the sidelines of a law enforcement senior management seminar which was held yesterday at the Hilton.

Mr Dames delivered the seminar’s opening remarks and stressed the need for initiatives to transform the Bahamas Department of Correctional Services (BDCS) from a penal institution to a corrective facility.

He also discussed the importance of improving accommodations for officers.

When asked if there are any current plans to build a new prison, Mr Dames said: “Not so much to build a new prison. I think we need to look first and foremost at whether many of the persons who are currently in there, if there is a need for all of them to be there.

“And so this is why we’re so aggressively pursuing rehabilitation, we’re pursuing parole. And that’s how it works in many of the developed societies or countries,” he continued.

“And more so, we’re looking at certainly development, but…it will be more focused on rehabilitation and those persons who are transitioning back into society; more focused on them and building a structure that will accommodate them and will allow us to really roll out our strategy of rehabilitation.

“And in terms of construction, yes there may be a need, but we’re looking at really reducing the numbers in our institutions as opposed to building more cells to accommodate more persons.”

Regarding the presence of foreign nationals in the prison, Mr Dames said these individuals are there because they have been charged with a crime, but noted oftentimes an agreement is brokered with other countries to have these individuals split their sentence between the Bahamas and elsewhere.

Mr Dames also spoke of the importance of improving accommodations at the BDCS, so that it is no longer treated like the “stepchild of law enforcement”.

“For far too long, members of the (BDCS)…have been considered really the stepchild of law enforcement,” Mr Dames said. “And that’s evident in the amount of attention that you have been receiving over the many years. And if you were just to walk into the confines of the (BDCS), you would see what I mean.”

Mr Dames said when he became minister and toured the facilities, he was “saddened” by its state and particularly the accommodations for officers.

He said he was concerned by the space itself, the lack of resources regarding tools officers need to “execute (their) mandate efficiently” and lack of resources to protect their safety.

“That did not go unnoticed,” he continued. “And this government now is taking steps to ensure that you are brought up to the level of the other agencies, so to speak.

“And so we have work currently being carried out now, to improve, to put on (an) entire new roof at the administrative offices. We’re looking at improving the kitchen as well, which was in a terrible condition and state and bringing in equipment. We’re working with the commissioner and the associations with improving the conditions.”

Mr Dames also said a commission is being established for the BDCS. This, he said, “will allow promotions and other welfare issues to be addressed in an expeditious manner. That’s extremely important for us. And I think if we can get beyond that point, I think it will go a long way in increasing and picking up morale.”

He added that improving conditions will go a long way to attracting the “brightest and best” to the profession.

When asked when the commission will be appointed, Mr Dames said: “We’re working with the Office of the Attorney General to enact legislation. I’m hoping certainly before this year is out I can have something positive to say to…officers within the BDCS. There’s just so many moving parts right now as far as that agency is concerned.”

Mr Dames also said Canadian law enforcement will assist with the process of transforming the BDCS.

“Come this Monday, we have the commissioner of corrections from Canada who will be coming to town this weekend. And on Monday we will be signing an MoU (memorandum of understanding) that will assist us as a country and will assist you in particular at the (BDCS) in this transformational process. And I want to thank, on behalf of our government, the government of Canada for this and the help that they are providing and have been providing at the (BDCS).”

Comments

Well_mudda_take_sic 6 months, 2 weeks ago

The Minnis-led FNM government prefers continuing its revolving door policy of releasing hard core, non-rehabilitative and very dangerous criminals among us rather than building new prison cells to keep them incarcerated. Just how many times do we have to hear about a murder or rape having been committed by a murderer or rapist who was wrongfully let out of prison early or wrongfully released from jail on bail???!!! But Minnis and his corrupt crew could somehow find mega millions of dollars to foolishly purchase the failed Grand Lucayuan Hotel. LMAO

0

Well_mudda_take_sic 6 months, 2 weeks ago

NOW THAT FRANK SMITH HAS BEEN ACQUITTED, MINNIS IS NOTHING BUT A LAUGHING STOCK TO THE ENTIRE BAHAMIAN PUBLIC. NEXT ACQUITTAL, SHAMELESS SHANE. JUST THINK OF THE MILLIONS AND MILLIONS OF DOLLARS OF TAXPAYER MONEY MINNIS AND CARL BETHEL HAVE SQUANDERED ON JUST THESE TWO COURT CASES ALONE. MEANWHILE WE HAVE CHILDREN GOING TO PUBLIC SCHOOLS THAT ARE IN A DREADFUL STATE OF DISREPAIR NOT TO MENTION SO SO MANY OTHER FAILINGS OF THIS MINNIS-LED GOVERNMENT. MINNIS LET HIS WELL KNOWN NASTINESS AND ARROGANCE GET THE BETTER OF HIM FROM DAY ONE AS PM. HE'S TRULY THE VERY DEFINITION OF A CHARACTER FLAWED WEAK LEADER. LMAO

0

SP 6 months, 2 weeks ago

"Prisoner Reform Key To End Jail Crisis" Jokey Friday!!!

0

Future 6 months, 2 weeks ago

If they chose to lock up murderers instead of weed smokers there would not be such overcrowding.

0

joeblow 6 months, 2 weeks ago

The whole island is criminal, so we need bigger jails!!

0

birdiestrachan 6 months, 2 weeks ago

I do not have the money to hire a QC. So I have nothing to say. ZERO. These folks are dangerous.

0

Sign in to comment