NASSAU, Bahamas — Minister of State in the Ministry of Labour and Social Development the Hon. Loretta Butler-Turner on Monday recognised the Department of Rehabilitative/Welfare Services for its work in helping those offenders of the law who choose to become rehabilitated.
Speaking at the Department of Rehabilitative/Welfare Services Rehabilitative Week Church Service at Antioch Baptist Church, Mrs Butler-Turner said the Department’s mission is to develop and provide mechanisms that will control offenders’ inappropriate behaviour and assist them in functioning as law abiding citizens thus contributing to the protection of society.
“One of its several goals is to plan, co-ordinate and implement rehabilitative programmes for offenders. This addresses the aforementioned offender who recognises the need to change his criminal lifestyle.
“The Department is always willing and prepared to assist persons in this area,” she said. The Department also plays other vital functions in helping to confront or intervene in situations before they can spiral out of control. Mrs Butler-Turner explained that the Child Protection Act of 2007, which came into force on October 1, 2009, includes some new provisions for the benefit of children and young persons.
“These include the requirement for parents/guardians to seek intervention from the Department of Rehabilitative/Welfare Services before having their children rendered uncontrollable. This helps in the diversion of juveniles from criminal justice proceedings,” she said.
“Parents can also now be mandated by the court to participate in the National Parenting Programme offered by Rehabilitative/Welfare Services,” Mrs Butler-Turner said.
“While this occurs on a regular basis, given the perceived number of un-supervised young persons in the community and the behaviour that they exhibit, it is felt that more parents require parenting training.”
In addition to the two segments of the programme offered at the Department, sessions are also held at P.A.C.E. (Providing Access to Continuing Education) for teen mothers, Her Majesty’s Prisons and Urban Renewal Centres in New Providence, the Minister of State noted.
The programme was launched in Exuma, Abaco and South Andros this year, and the Department’s staff in Grand Bahama in conjunction with the Ministry of Education also provides training for individuals and teenagers in high schools. Mrs Butler-Turner said the programme will continue to be expanded to reach the entire Bahamas.
Activities for the week include the Department of Rehabilitative/Welfare Services staff appearing on radio shows discussing the theme “Changing Lives Through Rehabilitation and informing the public of the services available at the Department; a seminar relating to male health to be held at Her Majesty’s Prisons and training workshops planned for technical and support staff to enhance their job performance.
In Grand Bahama there will be a speech and video competition for high school students and two town meetings, one in Pinder’s Point and the other in Eight Mile Rock on “Challenges of Parenting – Parenting with a Purpose.” The week will end with a youth forum and the topic to be addressed is “Youth and Crime.”
By Llonella Gilbert
Bahamas Information Services