The rehabilitation of inmates is one of the key programs being focused on by the Minister of National Security the Hon. Steadroy “Cutie” Benjamin as he seeks to bring all stakeholders together in order to achieve a desired goal.
On Tuesday, the Minister met with Executive Director of the GARD Centre along with members of the Community Development Center and representatives from Her Majesty’s Prison.
Executive Director of the GARD Centre, Roberta Williams, stressed the need for more awareness about the re-entry program that is being managed by her organization. She said that the program is very important and the progress is being monitored by regional and international countries.
Williams updated the Attorney General about the program’s objective, which she indicated is to assist with the rehabilitation of inmates between the ages of 18-35. The Re-entry program focuses on areas of Agriculture, Computer skills, Plumbing, Carpentry, Life skills and math and English.
Counsellor at Her Majesty’s Prison Weldon Jarvis explained that the program which commenced in March 2017 in his view has been very helpful. Jarvis asked the Minister to try and find ways in which they can get help to have literacy teaching done in the prison.
The counsellor noted that the inmates through his assessment and interaction are calling out for help and are generally interested in being fully rehabilitated. He noted though that most lacked basic reading skills which is truly a cause for concern.
The Minister with responsibility for the Prison instructed the officers to compile a list of inmates who are unable to read or write. He added that he will make a presentation before cabinet, so that a teaching program can be instituted.
Benjamin says a successful rehabilitation program is essential for Antigua and Barbuda, as it act as a mechanism to incorporate the inmates back in society where they can make a meaningful contribution and lead independent lives.
The Re-entry Program will end in March of 2019 and the Minister of National Security is hopeful that it will be re-adopted. .