July 14, 2011
The Bahamas is working with the North Carolina Department of Corrections to implement a 12-week program that has helped the American state decrease its recidivism rate to seven percent. It is hoped the program will help The Bahamas do the same. Minister of National Security Tommy Turnquest said during the program introduction yesterday at police headquarters that Her Majesty's Prison had recidivism rates as high as 42 percent six years ago, which dropped to 15 percent last year. He said this program, called 'Project Re-entry', will be run by the not-for-profit group the L.E.A.D. (Leadership, Esteem, Ability, Discipline) Institute and is designed to help ex-convicts reintegrate into society. "The government's goal is to improve the quality of life and the standard of living of all our citizens including those, who, for some reason or another find themselves incarcerated in prison," said Turnquest. Former inmates have said time and again that society is an unforgiving one, where they are shunned when they attempt to re-enter the community and make positive changes when released from prison. Assistant chief of program services at the North Carolina Department of Corrections Fay Lasiter said it is also up to the community to help former inmates reintegrate and that 'Project Re-entry' is as much about protecting community as it is about helping ex-convicts. "It helps to make them a more positive, contributing member to their community," Lasiter said. "If it is going to be effective, the community must embrace the program." Turnquest said that, according to prison statistics, more than 90 percent of those involved in crimes in The Bahamas are male, approximately nine out of 10 are Bahamian nationals, two out of three are under the age of 35 and fewer than 25 percent of those admitted to prison possess a high school diploma. He commended the L.E.A.D. Institute for augmenting and enhancing programs already offered at the prison. At a certificate presentation ceremony last Thursday, more than 100 inmates were recognized for participating in a variety of subjects offered at the prison, including computer skills, auto body repair, tailoring and welding, according to Turnquest. L.E.A.D. president Troy Clarke agreed that the rehabilitation of ex-convicts is not only the role of the government and non-profit organizations like his own, and encouraged the community at large to participate in their efforts. "We want to steer the creative minds of the men who are released," Clarke said. "Many if not all imprisoned men have travelled down a misery filled road and in most cases paid a debt to society," he said.
Click here to read more at The Nassau Guardian