Government is planning to introduce parole, house arrest and electronic monitoring as part of the country’s punitive options.
Making the announcement, Minister of Home Affairs and Information, Wilfred Abrahams said the intention is to institute the parole system as soon as possible. He explained that the process of examining the necessary legislation and the structure of a proposed parole board are presently being explored.
The minister shared the news during his remarks to Wednesday’s Medals Presentation Ceremony for officers of the Barbados Prison Service, at Dodds Prisons in St Philip, where he also indicated that efforts are on the way to increase the rehabilitation programmes at the correctional facility.
Abrahams said inmates with no legitimate need to be imprisoned should not remain behind bars.
“Persons may come into prison, they may have a sentence to serve but [there are] some people you would actually genuinely believe have made strides to rehabilitating themselves and need to be given a chance.
“At present we don’t have a parole system. Either you are in or you are out. We need to put that in place so that we can monitor persons, give them a chance, put them on the outside, reintegrate them back into society, monitor them and that system we are pushing to bring into force as quickly as possible,” Abrahams said.
He added: “We are looking at all the things that we need to put in place. We are looking at electronic monitoring as well. I am currently getting some quotes to deal with the electronic bracelets, because equally, I don’t need to feed you if you are home being fed by your family.
“If we need to confine you to a space, but it need not be here, then you can be confined to a space of your choosing, at your own home and let other people lecture you about why you have an ankle bracelet on your leg and you can’t wait to get it off and do right, straighten up and fly right.”
The Home Affairs minister also revealed that the Government was exploring options around establishing a halfway house to accommodate newly-released prisoners until they are fully reintegrated into society. He suggested that inmates who have been imprisoned for a long time, are often released from the institution ill-equipped and unprepared to function in a modernised society.
“People need to catch up and catch up very quickly. Programmes need to be put in place to allow the prisoners a gradual reintroduction into society, where they can go somewhere, they can have subsidised housing while you try to find a job, you can have somebody that monitors, that counsels. . .,” Abrahams said.
He said systems were also being put in place to provide educational opportunities that would allow inmates to attain academic qualifications to improve their chances of successfully becoming employed when they are released after serving their sentence.
“I have been speaking with the Ministry of Education. Following COVID, a lot of children went online and while it may be difficult in many instances to bring people here to teach certain classes, or if there are people who are advancing better than others, and actually want them to have a chance to do an ‘A’ level or even a university degree, if that can be facilitated by doing online, then we are looking to put those things in place to do these things online,” the minister said. He suggested that within five years the prison should be in a new and improved state and be a ‘model’ facility for the Caribbean.