September 20, 2020

Revolving prison doors are hurting our islands

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A youth behavioural consultant for the Ministry of Education, Mr. Michael Myles, says that 70% of inmates released from Cayman prisons will reoffend within a year.

Mr. Myles’ concern is that this shockingly high rate of recidivism is creating a “revolving door” system, which is very costly to the country.

“We have housed kids, only to see them come out of one institution and then go right into the next.

“If you combine the expenditure of housing a resident at a juvenile home with the added expense of them then going to prison – one child could end up costing the government over $200 thousand per year.

“Sometimes we also have to take care of children whose parents are incarcerated.”

Mr. Myles, Programme Coordinator and Liaison Officer for the At Risk Youth Programme, says that a history of career criminality perpetuates a cycle that sometimes permeates through generations of the same family.

And that the criminal record of repeat offenders would not be the same if they were able to access quality rehabilitative care and were not just “locked down”.

“Eagle House does not address the children’s needs. All the kid’s are doing there is time.

“Northward Prison is ineffective because the inmates go from incarceration directly to the streets. There needs to be some sort of transition like a half-way-house,” said Mr. Myles.

A half-way-house is a form of rehabilitation facility, which is less restrictive, where individuals are gradually prepared for re-integration into society.

The coordinator of At Risk Youth said that the millions of dollars being spent on the operation of the juvenile homes is not likely to produce rehabilitation if the emotional and psychological needs of the residents are not met.

“90% of the time, if not more, the issues that the kids are experiencing are perhaps deep seated and have been instigated from their family environment.

“Teenage pregnancy, poverty, academic challenges as well as drug and alcohol dependency are all major issues, which can lead to people not being able to support themselves.” said Mr. Myles.

To try and prevent children from getting into trouble Mr. Myles will be starting a Secondary Schools Extended After School Programme in September to help guide and coach youngsters.

Mr. Myles told iNews that the new programme was designed to meet the needs of youngsters who, at the end of their school day, could otherwise get caught in harmful activities.

He also referred to a section in the government’s new crime fighting strategy, which recommends early intervention for potential young offenders by monitoring and evaluating their situations, together with the consolidation and coordination of youth services.

The programme is due to start on Monday the 19th of September. Registration will be open from now until then.

Mr. Myles said, “I created the programme after realising that many of our young people have nothing to do after school ends at 4pm each week day.

“Many of the kids were getting involved in anti-social activities in the community.

“These days a lot of the parents are working later and children are sometimes unsupervised during that time.

“The goals of the programme include the provision of security for the children during attendance, unstructured and supervised activities. We also need to battle the problem of obesity so there will also be a nutritional component. As well as providing assistance to the schools in addressing literacy.

“The programme was pitched from April to June of this year and it was very successful. All in all, 60 kids participated.”

To register youths for the programme, contact the following teachers: Ms. Sharon Whitmore, Clifton Hunter High School, Mr. Flynn Bush, John Gray High School, and the Administration office at the Cayman islands Further education Center.

All parents and students are encouraged to meet with their instructors in the Clifton Hunter High school hall on September 19, 2011 at 3pm.

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