Minister of National Security the Hon. Marvin Dames said, on April 15, 2019, that the Handover Ceremony that day was another milestone in the development of the oldest of the three branches of law enforcement in The Bahamas: The Bahamas Department of Correctional Services. “The rehabilitation and preservation of inmates’ rights is a subject of particular importance to this administration and it is one of priority for our Government,” Minister Dames pointed out during the ceremony that installed Mr. Charles Murphy as the new Commissioner and recognized the accomplishments of outgoing Commissioner Mr. Patrick Wright.
“We have attached central importance to the advancement and development of a correctional framework that seeks to address the principles of human rights for the incarcerated and the provisions of rehabilitative strategies and programmes for the same,” Minister Dames added. “We are truly committed to supporting correctional reform in The Bahamas by adopting a holistic approach to implemented changes to the criminal justice and rehabilitative system, as a whole.” Among those present at the Bahamas Department of Correctional Services (BDOCS) for the event were: Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance the Hon. K. Peter Turnquest; Minister of Education the Hon. Jeffrey Lloyd; Minister of Social Services and Urban Development the Hon. Frankie Campbell, and his Ministry’s Parliamentary Secretary Mr. Michael Foulkes; Minister of Foreign Affairs the Hon. Darren Henfield; Minister of the Public Service and National Insurance the Hon. Brensil Rolle; Minister of State for Legal Affairs the Hon. Elsworth Johnson; Chief Magistrate, Mrs. Joyann Ferguson-Pratt; Permanent Secretaries of a number of Government Ministries; Acting Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of National Security Mr. Eugene Poitier; the Executive Team of Correctional Services; Other Heads of National Law Enforcement Agencies (HONLEA), including Commissioner of Police Anthony Ferguson, Commander of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force Commodore Tellis Bethel, and Comptroller of Customs Dr. Geannine Moss; BDOCS Chaplain Apostle Reverend Dr. Leon Wallace, and other members of the clergy; retired Correctional Services Officers; Corrections Officers and civilian staff; family members and other stakeholders.
Minister Dames also brought greetings on behalf of Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Dr. Hubert Minnis. To Commissioner Murphy, Minister Dames noted that “the baton” was being passed to him and that he will be charged with preparing the institution for the future. “Of course, planning for the future takes place in the present and today is the tomorrow you prepared for,” Minister Dames said. “However, I urge you to be mindful that, as you begin your official tenure, remember that others came before you and so shall others follow you. “Some of those before you have made substantial contributions to the history of corrections in The Bahamas,” he added. “Therefore, I urge you to consider your words carefully and choose your actions wisely because they will both impact the legacy you leave behind.”
Minister Dames said that he was certain that Commissioner Murphy would want to make substantial and meaningful contributions to the history of corrections, like the outgoing Commissioner, Mr. Patrick Wright. “Commissioner Wright provided 40 years of dedicated service to the Department of Corrections,” Minister Dames said. “It is noteworthy that Mr. Wright was the first person to hold the office of Commissioner of Corrections, having been appointed as Acting Superintendent of the Prison in 2013 and, subsequently, assuming the title of Commissioner when the new Correctional Services Act was enacted in 2014.” Minister Dames noted that, under former Commissioner Wright’s leadership, efforts were made to improve security by strengthening the manpower of the Special Security Services (SSS), the Tactical Unit and the K-9 Unit. He also noted that Commissioner Wright expanded the Agriculture Unit and made provisions for Inmates’ Industries to share their products with the public.
“Commissioner Wright also negotiated a number of training opportunities for the staff in corrections, both locally and abroad,” Minister Dames said. “He has made contributions for which we are grateful. On behalf of a grateful nation, I thank you, Commissioner Wright, for your many years of service and devotion to this country and to the Department of Corrections.” “Commissioner Murphy, you are a veteran Corrections Officer who has risen through the ranks and has provided commendable service within the Department,” Minister Dames continued. “While I congratulate you on your new substantive appointment, please note that it comes with many expectations.”
Minister Dames told Commissioner Murphy to note that the charge of his leadership should not derail the Department’s forward movement. He added that he expects that, as the new Commissioner, his leadership should “steady the course, energize the work team and expertly steer the ship as BDOCS moves steadily forward in its quest to become a more correctional-focused institution”. Mr. Dames said: “Commissioner Murphy, I encourage you and your team to keep your heads up, selfish pride down, to gird yourselves and hit the ground running. Be the leader that exemplifies and embraces change by being strong, flexible and inclusive. All of the aforementioned attributes of leadership are fundamental to the success of continued change. This is particularly true when attempting to introduce evidence-based practices in a public safety system that is accustomed to a routine way of doing business.”
Minister Dames told Commissioner Murphy to note that leadership is not about building cliques; but it involves the process of influencing others to accomplish the mission by providing purpose, direction, and motivation.“ Aim to be a transformational leader, as opposed to a transactional one. Being transformational means being a change agent both philosophically and practically. As a result of your position, it means, therefore, that you are at the top of the pecking order at this institution,” Minister Dames said. “Given this fact, there is no need to remind others on a daily basis that you are in charge. Instead, use your time wisely and choose to lead by example,” he added. “Always display appreciation and respect for those whom you lead. Your success will depend on it. More specifically, as a transformational leader, you are responsible for accomplishing your mandate while being concerned about the welfare of all officers and inmates.”
Minister Dames admonished Commissioner Murphy to remember that a chain is only strong as its weakest link and that he directly controls “the climate and quality of life for both inmates and subordinates.” “Your unique attributes as a leader means you cannot be subjugated in any functional domain of human life,” Minister Dames said. “All the domains of functions must be well apt with intent to penetrate moral values while influencing the ethos and cognitive competences of both the inmates and your subordinates. “Note that our Government fully understands and has also embraced the many complexities involved in the rehabilitation of offenders as we seek not only to reduce recidivism but ensure that ex-offenders become law-abiding and productive citizens with the necessary educational and technical pre-requisites upon release.”
Hence, Minister Dames added, since coming to office, his Government began taking immediate steps to reform and transition the facility, while maintaining its success. “Therefore, Commissioner Murphy, you can expect our Government’s full support, as the Department of Corrections continues to evolve into a fully functioning correctional facility,” Minister Dames said. “This will entail the continued development of comprehensive strategies that will enable the Corrections facility to adapt, adjust and overcome the changing dynamics of rehabilitative services for the country.”