It appears much more suitable to sell the idea of someone who has committed a crime to be sent to prison than to sell the concept of someone who has run afoul of the law to be rehabilitated and return to society as a contributing citizen.
This observation was made by Joran Harvey, Manager of the Probation and Rehabilitation Unit in the Ministry of Home Affairs, working directly with Her Majesty’s Prison in Grand Turk.
Harvey, who was speaking on Awakening Possibility, hosted by Darron Hilaire on RTC’s FLOW in the Morning, was speaking on the topic: “Rehabilitating TCI -Healing behind Bars.”
He said when a crime is committed, the impacted persons are the victims and their family, the perpetrators, as well as the community in general. He noted that it is the resignation that when someone committed a crime, society’s first recommendation is prison rather that rehabilitation.
“Because that has always been at the forefront of our minds and the forefront of society, that’s what we have become accustomed to,” he explained, noting that society does not see the moral aspect of an incarcerated person returning to society fully rehabilitated.
“And, so, we seem to draw on what they see on an everyday basis. On an everyday basis they would see crimes being committed and people being sent to prison. And given the context that crime is high, people tend to believe the punishment is to punish the individual and throw the key away…and then crime would be reduced.
“And that’s one of the reasons we don’t see people advocating for rehabilitation, even though the evidence points that punishment does not necessarily reduce recidivism, rehabilitation does,” Harvey said.
Harvey believes that one aspect of retaliatory crime in the community emanates from the consideration that some do not have faith in the equitableness of the justice system.
“And where there is a lack of information, people automatically assume the worst. And one of the things we can do better is providing victims and witness with support services, particularly in the Turks and Caicos Islands.
“Being there you would see that there is a whole wave where they (government) have committed a department of witness and victim support services, and I believe that should be coming on soon under the department of public prosecution, where they may be having a witness support unit…I am not certain that it is just victims, but I know that talks are being held regarding implementing because they see the importance of it,” he added.
Harvey pointed out that victims are entitled to know every stage of the process, and they are entitled to have someone who is compassionate, who knows empathy and who can understand and be able to relay information and to link them with services.
“Because oftentimes too, whenever a crime is committed, services are more than likely, provided to the offender, and the victim is being left out…the victim is not necessarily linked with services. I know in some instances whenever sexual offenses occur, they (victims) are being linked with some sort of psychological therapy,” Harvey stated.
Pointing to the Bermuda model, Harvey revealed everyone on the response team is trained in what he referred to as psychological first aid, which he said comprised of social workers, pastors and random people from the entire community.
He said people would support in a variety of ways, including bringing supplies to the victims and to grieve with them.
“And it brought some sense of stability to that family, knowing that they were being provided for and supported by the entire community. And it gives the government a better approach because the family believes that the government is looking after their best interest and is working expeditiously to resolve the problem,” he further noted.
He said as a result of the model, citizens feel a sense of community to provide tips to the police. He said such a model also gives the justice system a new look, especially based on making the public know that they are approachable.
Harvey argued that the purpose of prisons is to foster correction and rehabilitation of the incarcerated.
“In my personal definition, I see prison as a transitional house. Ninety nine percent of the persons who are incarcerated will eventually be released back in society, and so they are being held temporarily.
“And it is the responsibility of the prisons, during whatever period they are incarcerated, to promote corrections and to rehabilitate these persons, so when they reenter society, they can reenter with the skills necessary to navigate all the negative experiences that caused them to go to prison.
“And so, when they reenter society, they are more equipped with the skills to make them lead a successful and law-abiding life.
“And so, prison is a transitional house because it is temporary. While you are in this house you are being trained and you are being given the tools necessary…of course, you are being held accountable or your actions, and you must also be enrolled in programmes that will address whatever your criminogenic needs are. And so, when you leave the (prison) house, you are able to live a law-abiding life,” Harvey said.