The Bahamas Signs Charter of Commitment with Correctional Services Canada

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Minister of National Security the Hon. Marvin Dames signs a Charter of Commitment between his Ministry and Correctional Services Canada (CSC), on February 4, 2019, at the Paul Farquharson Conference Centre, Police Headquarters. Correctional Services Canada Commissioner Anne Kelly signed on behalf of CSC. Also present for the event were Acting Permanent Secretary Eugene Poitier, Acting Commissioner of The Bahamas Department of Correctional Services (BDOCS) Charles Murphy and his Executive Team; and BDOCS Consultant and Retired Deputy Commissioner of Correctional Services Canada Mike Ryan.

Minister of National Security the Hon. Marvin Dames said, on February 4, 2019, that the Charter of Commitment signed that day between his Ministry and Correctional Services Canada represented the Government of The Bahamas’ “earnest efforts” in ensuring the complete transformation of the Bahamas Department of Correctional Services from a penal institution to that of a correctional organization. “Our presence here today also clearly demonstrates the Government of The Bahamas’ commitment and focus, on increased public safety,” Minister Dames said at the signing ceremony, held at the Paul Farquharson Conference Centre, Police Headquarters.

Among those present for the event were his Acting Permanent Secretary Eugene Poitier, Acting Commissioner of The Bahamas Department of Correctional Services (BDOCS) Charles Murphy and his Executive Team; Correctional Services Canada Commissioner Anne Kelly, and BDOCS Consultant and Retired Deputy Commissioner of Correctional Services Canada Mike Ryan. Minister Dames said that it was with the highest regard that he extended a public welcome to Commissioner Kelly, as her presence illustrated the continued friendship between the two nations.

He also pointed out that The Correctional Services Act 2014 that moved the prison service into a Department of Corrections was a milestone in building the department into a leader of treatment programmes to ensure that inmates, upon release from the system, had the necessary interventions to address their needs.“Through the continued partnership between the Bahamas Department of Correctional Services and Correctional Services Canada, which has been ongoing for a few years, we are on our way to seeing this transition realized,” Minister Dames said. “Already, collaborative exchanges between CSC and BDOCS have resulted in the development of an automated system to ensure our application of resources in the treatment of inmates is effective and efficient, and the extensive training of case management staff for assessments of new inmates.”

Moving forward, Minister Dames said, a specific area of concentration will be the establishment of a parole system. Training for Parole and Programme Officers began in the Fall of 2018, he noted.

“The Inter-American Development Bank through its Citizen Security and Justice Programme (CSJP) conducted a training seminar for representatives of all of branches of law enforcement stakeholders,” he pointed out. “During the seminar the parole legislation as expressed in the 2016 Conditional Release of Offenders Bill was analyzed and recommendations for adjustments were made.“CSJP is currently funding research on parole and recidivism through the University of the Bahamas.” Minister Dames noted that, at the same time, significant strides were being made to refine the corrections model being used to drive the corrections process in BDOCS.

“CSJP continues to work to upgrade all of BDOCS’ technical, vocational and rehabilitative therapy services,” he said. “Further collaboration between CSC and the Citizen Security and Justice Programme will play a pivotal role in the implementation of the parole system.” Minister Dames said that with the Charter signing that day, his Ministry was highlighting what had been accomplished, and the work that lay ahead. “We are ever mindful that the complete transition to a correctional facility can only be accomplished through respect of our Bahamian culture,” he said. “I am pleased to report that Correctional Services Canada’s work with the Bahamas Department of Correctional Services ensures that this cooperative design meets this prerequisite.

“Let me use this opportunity to thank all stakeholders, specifically Commissioner Kelly, Consultant Mr. Ryan and Acting Commissioner Charles Murphy, the Bahamas Department of Correctional Services and the Citizen Security and Justice facilitators for making this process a reality,” Minister Dames added. “I look forward to implementation of our goals and our ongoing partnership.”

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