Attorney General, Adriel Brathwaite listens attentively to President of the Association of Caribbean Heads of Correction and Prison Services, Lieutenant Colonel John Nurse at the opening of the conference at Hilton Barbados yesterday. (C.Pitt/BGIS)
Attorney General, Adriel Brathwaite, has described the rate of recidivism in Barbados as an unacceptable “revolving door”.
As a result, he has called for a session where employers and potential employers could interact with those who worked with offenders so they could recognise their role in the reintegration of ex-offenders in Barbados.
The Attorney General was at the time addressing the opening ceremony of the 10th annual Association of Caribbean Heads of Corrections and Prison Services conference under the theme: Assembling a Modern Regional Correctional Approach. It got under way at the Hilton Barbados Resort yesterday and concludes on Thursday, June 9.
Mr. Brathwaite, who is also Minister of Home Affairs, said that of the approximately 930 inmates at HMP Dodds, 250 were recidivists. “That is an area of great concern to me. We are trying to see how we can prevent more young people from coming to us, and how we can prevent them from coming back to us,” he stated.
He noted that three weeks ago, an ex-offender wrote him a letter indicating that he was unable to find a job over the last three years after completing a 20-year sentence because of his antecedents. “It is with great sadness that I receive these letters and I wonder what else we can do,” Mr. Brathwaite lamented.
During his address, the Attorney General noted the presence of correction officers, members of the judiciary and Probation Department at the conference.
“But what I don’t see is the clog in the wheel that is causing me as Minister and management of the prison the greatest difficulty. That is the public and the role that they have to play in allowing ex-offenders to be successfully reintegrated into our societies. It is a tremendous challenge,” he pointed out.
He explained that while everything was being done to give prisoners a better chance at reintegration on their release, efforts needed to be made to get “the other side of the wheel” incorporated into the process.
“When they come to us they have little or no skill, little or no self-esteem, mental and other challenges…We don’t usually have the brightest and the best, but we have a vocational component which offers things like masonry, carpentry, mechanics, husbandry, agriculture.
“We are trying to get them to have recognised qualifications. We also spend lots of time teaching basic life skills so that when ex-offenders return to society they are better able to cope,” the Minister explained.
Acknowledging that not everyone could be saved, Mr. Brathwaite appealed to the wider society to take a hard look at how the rate of recidivism could be reduced.