Il­lit­er­acy, lack of sup­port to blame

Daily Nation (Barbados) - - Community -

IL­LIT­ER­ACY AND LACK of fam­ily sup­port have been iden­ti­fied as two of the main causes of re­cidi­vism.

Mem­ber of the Prison Board Af­ter-care Com­mit­tee and ex­ec­u­tive coun­cil mem­ber of the Bar­ba­dos Work­ers’ Union (BWU), Jef­frey Grant, said most of the at least 900 prison pop­u­la­tion was be­tween 16 to 28 years. Seventy-five per cent of them, he added, could not read or write, while 45 per cent had no fam­ily sup­port and did not even get a visit.

Grant was one of the pan­el­lists at the BWU Ed­u­ca­tional Com­mit­tee’s panel dis­cus­sion un­der the ti­tle Yes­ter­day, To­day, The Fu­ture: Vi­o­lence in Bar­ba­dos – Is­sues, Chal­lenges, So­lu­tion. It took place last Sun­day at Sol­i­dar­ity House.

“If we can send a child from el­e­men­tary school to sec­ondary school and they can­not read or write, haven’t we failed th­ese peo­ple?” Grant queried.

He said such peo­ple then leaned to­wards those who would of­fer them some­thing and gave them the abil­ity to sur­vive.

Grant ques­tioned how an un­em­ployed 16-year-old could af­ford to legally pur­chase the cheap­est gun which cost more than $4 000. He said in­di­vid­u­als with the where­withal were of­fer­ing young peo­ple guns “to go out there and make money and bring them back a per­cent­age”.

While mak­ing a case for ex­pris­on­ers to be as­sisted so they did not re­turn to jail, the trade union­ist said it cost Gov­ern­ment $53 631.75 per year to care for a pris­oner.

“We have been ask­ing some of the [con­struc­tion firms] and those peo­ple to as­sist th­ese peo­ple in job op­por­tu­ni­ties to al­low them to rein­te­grate into so­ci­ety, so that they would not have to re­turn to prison. We have found that none of th­ese peo­ple are will­ing to of­fer th­ese peo­ple any form of em­ploy­ment.

“Now they go to prison and learn skills, come out as ma­sons, car­pen­ters and plumbers, but then the em­ploy­ers say get a po­lice cer­tifi­cate and that licks them back to where they were,” Grant said.

Ad­di­tion­ally, he said they sought per­mis­sion to use the old Glendairy Prison as a skills train­ing/half­way house for at least six months for those who did not have any­where to go af­ter re­lease. The peo­ple re­sid­ing there would clean up and re­fur­bish the area, he added.

How­ever, Grant re­vealed that when they ap­proached the Min­istry of Hous­ing and Lands, they were told it was a tourist at­trac­tion.

Sev­eral busi­nesses had also of­fered to trans­form land in The Belle, St Michael, for the ex­pris­on­ers to do agri­cul­ture and live­stock farm­ing, but Grant said that land was given to the Ur­ban De­vel­op­ment Com­mis­sion.

“Wher­ever we try to bring some type of re­form for those peo­ple, we are hit­ting our heads against the rocks,” he said. ( LK)

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