The condition of many Turks and Caicos Islanders who served time in prison but return to a life of crime after they have been released could be blamed on the level of rehabilitation they get in while incarcerated coupled with the lack of job opportunities.
Commissioner of Police for the Turks and Caicos Islands, Trevor Botting addresses the news conference. Seated from left are: Kenny Grant - Acting Assistant Commissioner of Police; Darron Williams - Acting Assistant Commissioner of Police; and Rodney Adams - Deputy Commissioner of Police
This conclusion was made by Commissioner of Police, Trevor Botting, while responding to reporters’ questions at a news conference at the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands new Police Headquarters on Airport Road on Wednesday, May 19.
The news conference was held to outline the three-year policing strategic plan.
Commissioner Botting explained that while there is a government-backed thrust at Her Majesty’s Prison, located in Grand Turk, to augment the rehabilitation delivery, to transform inmates into positive contributing citizens on their release, if opportunities are not given, those former inmates would return to a life of crime.
“It is no good just locking people up, you have got to give them a choice when they come out. As part of this cross-government work, there is a big thrust for people that are in prison serving sentences coming out as better citizens…it is a really important part of business,” Commissioner Botting said.
He said while he believes criminals should be made to pay their debt to society, after that obligation is offset, it is important that they reenter society as normal citizens.
“So, I am a person who likes locking up criminals. But I wouldn’t mind sharing a conversation with someone who has come out and turned their life around. We have to give them the opportunity to do that,” he said, stressing also that it would have to take collaborative effort for such achievement to be realized.
“It has got to come from the prison, and there is a lot happening in the prison…there is a massive drive, and I think the superintendent, being supported by government, is a recognition that we need to give people rehabilitation and then to give them choices when they come out,” he said.
Commissioner Botting told the news conference that he was well aware that conversations as to whether to employ certain ex- inmates have been taking place, hinting that some employers were not comfortable with the idea.
“And I know this conversation is going, as to how we employ people when they come out of prison…how do we give them a second chance when people know what they have done? And I think that is really important. It is a challenge. It is a challenge in an industry here that works a lot in tourism…so how do you give people a second chance when they come out?” he rhetorically asked.
Commissioner Botting argued that without proper reform and opportunities, it would be pointless for the police to put so much work into apprehending criminals, then for the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DDP) to prosecute them, and then for the courts to convict them…only for them to return to the street not being reformed. He pointed out that there has to be proper reintegration and opportunities when they get out.
“There is no good us being effective, there is no good the DPP’s office being on fire, there is no use the courts seeing all the good we do and put people in prison, if we are going to cycle them, and coming out and not changed and not having another choice in life.
“Because I would imagine that when a lot of TCI people come out (of prison) they want to do something different, but they just don’t have the means or opportunity to do something different. So, of course, what you end up with is going back to what you know and that is going back into crime,” he noted.
In the meanwhile, Commissioner Botting commended Her Majesty’s Prison for seeing the need to step up its prison reform system.