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New interim prison boss sees good and bad in first few weeks

There’s a new interim boss for Her Majesty’s Cayman Islands Prison Service.

Steven Barrett stepped into the role last month, taking on all aspects of the prison and its $15 million budget.

He met with local media for the first time Thursday (22 March) and Cayman 27’s Kevin Morales was at Northward Prison.

“I’m here six months on an interim basis initially,” Mr. Barrett said. “So I’ve got a real kind of job to do in creating a vision and I suppose promoting that vision because it’s a vision that might have longer term legacy issues for the Cayman Islands.” 

Mr. Barrett has roughly 30 years experience in corrections, most recently as Superintendent of Prisons in the Turks and Caicos Islands.

“Above anything else, what the Prison Service needs to deliver — the kind of outputs for the people we look after that are entrusted in our care that are gonna make Cayman and the communities within Cayman more resilient, safer and nicer places to be,” he said. 

He says he’s seen good and bad in his first few weeks on the job. 

“My early impressions are that I’ve got a very competent and able group of staff,” Mr. Barrett said.

He says the support extends outside the barbed wire and concrete walls as well.

“What we have is a really strong foundation of interest from a number of kind of key partners in the community,” Mr. Barrett said.

Partners that can provide training and job opportunitites.

On the flip side, the bad, starting with the facilities themselves.

“The environment is not one that’s really fit for modern day prison services,” he said, referring to both Northward Prison and the Immigration Detention Centre. 

Then, he says that $15 million budget needs to be re-worked.

“We’re spending much more on security and good order than we are on rehabilitation,” Mr. Barrett said. 

Finally, he says to cut the recidivism rate, you’ve got to have proper records.

“One of the things I think we can do better here is collect data,” he said.

Mr. Barrett’s interim period lasts six months. He says he plans to apply for the full-time position.

About the author

Kevin Morales

Kevin Morales

Cayman 27 News Director Kevin Morales is an award-winning journalist with more than 12 years of experience. Kevin is a Milwaukee, Wis., native. He graduated with a bachelor's degree in journalism in 2005 from the University of Minnesota. He's a proud father and a loyal fan of the Green Bay Packers, Milwaukee Brewers, Milwaukee Bucks and U of M Golden Gophers.

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