ST JOHN’S, Antigua – National Security Minister Dr Errol Cort has welcomed the injection of funds from the United States to improve the operations at prisons and correctional facilities in the region under the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI).
As minister responsible for the prison here as well as chairman of the Regional Security Systems (RSS) Dr Cort said he is glad the US recognises the region’s shortcomings and recently allocated US $1.5 million in funds to expand the capacity of RSS nations to help make prisons and correctional centres safe, secure, humane, and in accordance with international standards.
The minister noted that more often than not, a lot of the training in respect of law enforcement is concentrated within the military and the police and prisons are usually left out, but not this time around.
“We tend to forget our prison officers and I am very pleased under the CBSI programme there is funding to train our prison officers. Many of these prison officers go into the prisons in the region and they have not received any training and they go through that service without any training,” Dr Cort noted.
He said officers need overall training and emphasis would particularly be placed on their role and ability to help rehabilitate inmates.
“Under the CBSI we will be able to provide certain amount of training to our prison officers, both junior and senior prison officers and the type of training would be on how to properly man the prison and most importantly to expand that level of training so as to equip them with the necessary rehabilitation skills so that it is not simply about locking down inmates but it is also working with inmates to make them better persons when they are released into society, the RSS chair said.
A year ago the prison was staffed with 18 new officers, 12 men and six women, adding to the 60 plus officers who were already at the prison at the time.