Jamaica, UK to rehabilitate offenders and deportees

KINGSTON, Jamaica, October 31, 2008 – The governments of Jamaica and the United Kingdom (UK) are working on a £3 million (US$4.89 million) programme for the rehabilitation and reintegration of local offenders and deported persons.

Minister of National Security, Senator Colonel Trevor MacMillan, said that a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the matter should be signed by the end of this week.

He said that the objectives of the three-year programme, being funded by the British government, are to improve the effectiveness of the Department of Correctional Services in reducing re-offending and to enhance the programmes and services available to offenders and deported persons, to facilitate reintegration into society.

The Security Minister pointed out further that on average, approximately 23 per cent of the 1,800 offenders who have been released from correctional institutions annually, are convicted of another offence within two years.

“There are no structured programmes in place to facilitate reintegration of deported persons into our society, and although the Correctional Services are doing a tremendous job with the little resources they have, there is little access to similar programmes for persons released from local institutions,” he noted.

Senator MacMillan added that the programme will commence with the development of a Jamaica Reducing Re-offending Action plan. In addition, technical assistance and advice will be provided to the Ministry to support the establishment of a hostel/reception centre, for deported persons, which will be funded separately by the UK.

The Security Minister noted, however, that the individuals will not be held as prisoners, but they will “pass through the hostel”, where counselling will be offered.

At the same time, Senator MacMillan pointed out that the Jamaica government was seeking to ensure that it does not compromise the nation’s security “or relinquish control over our borders”, in the process.