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Report on Prison Conditions in Jamaica


5. Rehabilitation/Vocational Schemes


Ostensibly at least, the Jamaican penal system places great emphasis on rehabilitation. Te Corrections Act changed the names of the island’s penal institutions so that each carries the uniform suffix ‘Correctional Centre’, and the ‘Correctional Institution’ Rules were introduced in 1991. Te Department of Correctional Services’ own mission and vision statements highlight the importance of the ‘rehabilitation’, ‘empowerment’, and ‘reintegration’ of offenders into society. Te Department’s description of the ‘Correctional Process’ is as:


One which provides to those in our care a relevant, structured, therapeutic environment to facilitate their empowerment and rehabilitation to become peaceful, responsible and productive members of society.27


Te Department’s mission statement also refers to the need to ‘contribute to the safety and protection of our society by keeping offenders secure’, but the general emphasis remains firmly on rehabilitation.


Te aim of rehabilitation, of course, can only be hindered by the standards and conditions described elsewhere in this report, and the general impression gained from visits to SCACC and TSACC is one of a penal system struggling to provide its inmates with the most basic living standards. Te rehabilitative and vocational schemes and courses offered at the institutions are grossly under-resourced and oversubscribed, and as a result only a relatively small number of prisoners are able to benefit from them. Indeed the lack of resources is such that no prisoners at SCACC or TSACC are currently able to participate in the day release schemes provided for under Section 58 of the Corrections Act. At TSACC, inmates’ woodwork lines the corridors outside some of the cell blocks, as there is simply nowhere else for them to work.


However, despite the paucity of available resources, there were many positives to be observed in the work being undertaken with offenders at the institutions. Staff members and inmates alike were justifiably proud of the schemes that were offered, and of their involvement. Te inmates who were able to take part emphasised the positive influence that being able to work had had on them while incarcerated, and expressed their hope that the work they had undertaken would assist them in gaining parole and finding employment when released. In the face of great hardship in terms of basic living standards, work and education seemed to provide the inmates with a sense of focus and purpose. Te observations in this section of the report thus acknowledge the more


27 See http://www.dcsj.net/dcsj/vision_and_mission.htm


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