Officers of the Bahamas Department of Correctional Services are receiving mental health training. This was revealed at a press conference held to announce the awarding of a contract for the construction of a new correctional facility.

Thirty two officers are being trained in correctional behavioral health training. American Correctional Association Senior Director Dr. Elizabeth Gondles said, “its a human rights issue. We know that there’s mental illness and if there is mental illness we have to treat these individuals. Second of all we have to arm our staff and we have to prepare our staff to deal with, to recognize that the people who are coming into our facilities have this issue and how to de-escalate situations that could not only hurt other inmates but also could hurt the staff. And it could put the correctional facilities at risk of issues and violence.”

For his part, Minister of National Security, the Hon. Wayne Munroe spoke of the importance of the new facility in addressing this issue. He said, “there’ve been I think three in total fatalities that either relate to self harm or interaction with other inmates, they call them residents now, that is really an impetus in driving the need to get a proper facility in place as quickly as possible. And so that is a real issue.”