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Interim Prisons boss seeks new training, employment opportunities for inmates

Cayman’s new interim prison boss says it’s time to do something different to help Cayman’s inmates learn skills that hopefully will keep them out of jail.

It’s especially important because of Cayman’s notoriously high recidivism rate, which a few years ago hovered around 70 percent. Going forward, new Interim Prisons Director Steven Barrett says it’s time to engage inmates with real-life employment opportunities.

Cayman 27’s Kevin Morales has more.

“I’d like to do things that are different in here,” Mr. Barrett said. 

When it comes to truly rehabilitating the men serving time, Mr. Barrett says it’s time to think outside the box.

“One of the issues for many prison services is that they typically load the industries and the teaching side of their regimes with things that prison services have always done,” Mr. Barrett said. “So they’ll always have woodwork and plumbing skills and some basic life skills as well. If we truly want to help someone rehabilitate, one of the key facets of that is the employbility.”

Mr. Barrett says the old, traditional programmes aren’t working.

“We’ve currently got about five workshops here that are doing nothing,” he said. “There are no prisoners engaged. And they’re not working in them.”

So he says it’s tim to throw away the key on those traditional programmes and find innovative new ways to train inmates in industries that need workers. 

“I’ll provide the labor, because I’ve got a captive audience,” Mr. Barrett said. “And I’ll also make the payment for the overheads and the running of that.

“And as long as they (businesses) can demonstrate what’s in it for society and what’s in it for the prisoners, in particular, then that would be a discussion I’d be interested in having.”

He says it has worked before.

A prison he worked with in Scotland put out a call for companies to come in, train and employ inmates to work for the company from inside the prison. Mr. Barrett said 169 businesses applied and, in the end, a telemarketing company turned part of the prison into a call center.

In another instance, Mr. Barrett says inmates were trained to re-certify tools.

“The possibility of doing things beyond the prison gate for those engaged and impressive enough and who demonstrate the right qualities —  then I suppose there was some way for them to sustain employment behind release,” he said.

He says that would go a long way in keeping inmates from coming back. »

Mr. Barrett says he hasn’t identified any potential employers who could partner with the prison to start new employment or training programmes but he hopes to do so soon.

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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