July 30, 2012:
Justice Minister Herbert Volney today met executive members of the Prison Service Division. This was the first official meeting with the Prison Service Executive following the reassignment of the Division from the Ministry of National Security to the Ministry of Justice.
Speaking from the Justice Ministry’s headquarters at the Port of Spain International Waterfront Complex, Minister Volney expressed his willingness to ensure the smoothest transition possible for all employees focusing especially on timely payment of all salaries and allowances and ensuring that the officers retain their opportunities for promotion.
Minister Volney further indicated that the realignment of the Prison Service Division under the Ministry of Justice allows for the better implementation of Penal Reform and initiatives under the Restorative Justice philosophy. Some of those initiatives include:
1.The introduction of a system of Parole managed by a Parole Board: the new parole system is intended to work seamlessly within the prisons to ensure the restoration of offenders and the reduction of unacceptable levels of recidivism
2.An Early Release programme for certain categories of offenders, whereby a system of merit and demerit can be applied towards remittance of sentence for offenders who have demonstrated their reception of rehabilitative programmes which teach life skills, hygiene, courtesy and good manners, anger management, discipline and personal development. Offenders will also have an opportunity to improve their income earning potential in preparation for re-integration into society either by qualifying academically or through vocational training.
3.Electronically Facilitated Remand Courts to enable persons in remand to enter pleas in private before a Magistrate from the outlying district courts via microwave link using closed circuit technology. This intervention will remove the need to transport inmates outside the of the secured alley way from the remand facility. This change will also cut cost and the inconvenience associated with transporting inmates to district courts.
In reply, Acting Prisons Commissioner Mr Martin Martinez expressed his pleasure to work together with the entire Ministry in accomplishing its goals of rehabilitation of offenders and reduction in the current re-offending rate which now stands at 55%.
Commissioner Martinez also used the opportunity to address some areas of concern for the Prison Executive, these include:
• Security for inmates;
• Security for prison officers;
• Developing targeted strategies for special needs prisoners such as women, the mentally ill and juveniles.
Commissioner Martinez also indicated that much needed to be done to educate not only the public but prison officers on the philosophy of Restorative Justice.
The Prison Service Division was reassigned to the Ministry of Justice on 6th of July 2012.
Courtesy Ministry of Justice