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Help for ex-offenders

Authorities are considering setting up a transitional facility to help ex-convicts and troubled youth from the Government Industrial School reintegrate into society.

Attorney General and Minister of Home Affairs Adriel Brathwaite said this would temporarily solve the housing problem plaguing many former offenders who have nowhere to go, or are shunned by family members.

He said consideration was being given to constructing the facility in St Philip.

“I am working on a solution, because we also have the same challenge for one or two people who leave the Government Industrial School,” he said.

“As a society and as a Government we still have a responsibility to ensure they’re settled back into society,” the Attorney General said of the young people leaving the school.

Brathwaite made the comments during today’s debate on a resolution for his ministry to receive an additional $1,875,260 from the Consolidated Fund to support the work of the Barbados Fire Service and Her Majesty’s Prisons Dodds.

While commending officers employed in the two areas for the work they have been doing, the Attorney General said the Barbados Youth Service and some private individuals had also shown dedication through numerous interventions.

He also disclosed that Government now had a four-year strategic plan for the prisons, with one of the main focuses being on rehabilitation.

Brathwaite explained that the aim was to reduce the number of repeat offenders housed at the facility.

In giving his support to the debate, Prime Minister Freundel Stuart said while he agreed with the need to establish a transitional facility for former offenders, additional assistance was needed to ensure that their adjustment into society was as seamless as possible.

“Prison aftercare is as important as the actual care that is bestowed on inmates and made available to them while in prisons. The society has to mature on these issues. Because a man has spent time in prisons does not mean he’s a criminal for life,” he said.

“Families have a key role to play in all of this. Sometimes there is a kind of culture clash between families and inmates discharged from prison who go back into these households and find it very difficult . . . . It’s going to call for increased understanding from both sides,” Stuart added.

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