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Prison Marks 35 Years

HMP Northward

Her Majesty’s Cayman Islands Prison Service marks its 35th anniversary this month with the first formal Cayman Islands Corrections Week from 24-30 April 2016.

The facility opened on 5 June 1981, when prison officers from the U.K. arrived to set up the service and train local staff.

Up until then, convicted offenders were kept in the “lock-up” in George Town or, for serious offences, served their sentences in Kingston, Jamaica.

For a short time, serious offenders continued to be incarcerated in Kingston, until suitable accommodation was ready at HMP Northward.

Originally built to house around 50 prisoners, including females, HMP Northward has expanded greatly throughout the last three-and-a-half decades, with a number of wings, the Children’s Unit, a farm, gym, chapel and vocational workshops added during that time.

The Prison Service now also includes the women’s facility at HMP Fairbanks, which opened in 1999, and oversees the Immigration Detention Centre.

“Often the forgotten partners in law enforcement and community safety, the employees of the Prison Service work tirelessly to ensure that those remanded and sentenced to prison are held safely and securely, maintaining good order and discipline,” said Director of Prisons Neil Lavis.

Beyond that, Mr. Lavis has placed great emphasis on decency: treating colleagues, visitors and prisoners in a humane and respectful way.

Rehabilitation of prisoners is also a major focus, with the service investing heavily in resources that provide prisoners with the tools to change their lives and prevent reoffending when they return to the community.

“Corrections Week is an avenue through which we want to spotlight the work being done by the prisoners and staff, and address public misconceptions,” said Mr. Lavis. “A positive regard and participation from the community is vital to the success of any rehabilitation programme.”

Corrections Week celebrations include a special souvenir insert in the Cayman Compass on Friday, 22 April; a thanksgiving service at the Church of God Chapel on Walkers Road on Sunday, 24 April; and a tour and luncheon for Members of the Legislative Assembly at HMP Northward on Monday, 25 April.

There will also be a media day at both prison locations on Tuesday, 26 April; prisoner activities on Wednesday, 27 April, and Mr. Lavis and new forensic psychologist Nina Welsh will be guests on the Cayman 27 discussion show The Panel on Thursday, 28 April.

The week will be rounded off with a reception and recruits graduation ceremony on Friday, 29 April and a staff community project on Saturday, 30 April.

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For further information contact: Suzette Ebanks