Implementation of the government’s expansive multi-agency Citizen Security & Justice Program continues with the objective to reduce crime and increase safety and security. The Citizen Security and Justice Program (CSJP) continues to be a top priority for the government and the Minister of National Security, the Hon. Marvin Dames, whose ministry is responsible for overseeing its operation. An Inter-American Development Bank Portfolio Review Mission Team and CSJP, in meeting with various stakeholders, recently viewed ongoing initiatives of the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture and the role it plays in CSJP. They saw first-hand the Fresh Start refresher and Mentorship Training initiatives that are operating in the Quakoo Street Community Centre as a part of the Citizen Security & Justice Program. CSJP is funded by an IDB loan as in investment in addressing the problem of crime in The Bahamas. Key stakeholders of this far-reaching initiative include: the Office of the Prime Minister’s Delivery Unit, the Ministry of Youth, Sports & Culture, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Labour and Department of Labour, National Training Agency, Office of the Attorney General, The Chief Justice (Acting), Registrar of Courts, The Department of Public Prosecution, The Bahamas Department of Corrections, Ministry of Social Services, Department of Rehabilitative and Welfare Services, Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institution (BTVI), the Ministry of Finance, and the Inter-American Development Bank.
The Citizen Security and Justice Program may be one of the largest, concerted efforts to address the social and systemic challenges that contribute to crime within local communities. It attacks crime from a different angle, being driven by strengthening the capacity of various institutions and improving mindset and skillset of members in the communities. The first of four components are designed to addresses behavior modification and social re-engineering needed to equip young persons to resolve conflict in a non-violent manner. Led by the Ministry of Youth Sports and Culture and the Ministry of Education, plans are underway to open fully programmed Youth Centers and Community Centres throughout various districts in New Providence over the next three years. In addition to Sports and Culture, programs will focus on gender-based violence, parenting, against sexual assault training, violence interrupters, job readiness, youth empowerment, safe dating and conflict resolution within the school system. The second component of the program will empower the young adult population through soft skills and technical training with a view towards improving their prospects of employment. The Ministry of Labour and Department of Labor have partnered with the National Training Agency to implement the training programs designed to prepare some 2,600 young persons for the workforce. The capacity of the NTA will also be strengthened through training of its personnel. The Citizen Security and Justice Program has financed the upgrade of the Electronic Labour Exchange Platform (ELE), operated by the Department of Labour. The ELE is a web-based tool that will help expand and enhance the Public Employment Services offered to employers and prospective job seekers.
There is a strong effort to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of the criminal justice system. Under review is a major investment to implement a robust Integrated Case Management System to improve, court scheduling, electronic case management, court recording and reporting. Once implemented, along with other judicial reforms, the anticipated benefit is a reduction in the backlog of cases and more efficient processing of court cases. The final component of this massive program is spearheaded by the Department of Corrections and includes plans to continue the reformation of the prison from a penal to a correctional institution. The chief output is the implementation of a rehabilitative model and case management systems for the incarcerated adults and juveniles. The model and case management system will provide a structured program of rehabilitation throughout an inmate’s/juvenile’s stay. An exciting partnership is being fostered with the Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institution to provide certifications for inmates. This will assist with reintegration of offenders into the community upon release. The goal is to reduce the rate of recidivism. Undergirding this effort is a Project Implementation Unit in the Ministry of National Security and an active Steering Committee comprised of Permanent Secretaries throughout the various government agencies.