What does rehabilitation really mean to this Government?
THE EDITOR, Sir:
I would like to congratulate the Ministry of National Security, especially the junior minister, the Honourable Rudyard Spencer, for the initiative to assist inmates in our penal institutions to be tutored and sit Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examinations while incarcerated.
The minister, at the Jamaica Labour Party’s (JLP) annual conference last November, went even further to say that those who are successful may also be assisted with tertiary education so that they will be able to contribute to society when they are released.
The initiative is an admirable one, and I hope it will be a success.
However, I have a few questions for the honourable minister:
1. After the Government spends public funds to assist these ‘criminals’, will the Government be willing to employ them?
2. After how many years should society accept them and allow them to move forward and leave their past behind?
3. Is this really assisting the ‘criminals’, or are they just being used as another tick in the achievement column of the Government?
You see, Minister Spencer, I am an example of what Government is spending public resources on and encouraging these ‘criminals’ to aspire to.
After nearly three decades after I made mistakes, I did all you are encouraging those to do now so that they can be rehabilitated and reintegrated into society. However, public resources may just be wasted as this society is not prepared, or ready, to accept that rehabilitated individuals are not perpetual criminals and persons can and do change for the better.
Privileges taken away
Rehabilitated individuals have a long list of privileges that are taken away from them, one being that you should not be employed by the Government. However, one thing they can do is vote.
‘Rehabilitated criminals’ are allowed to put their X beside the bell or head without being asked about their record.
Maybe, just maybe, the privilege of being able to vote should also be taken away, and I am sure, many parliamentarians would see their margins decrease drastically or even be out of Parliament. You want their vote, but that’s where the relationship ends. After that, they become an endangered species.
Minister Spencer, these resources spent in this way cannot be value for money unless the initiative is two-fold – the society has to be included and understand that rehabilitation means “to restore someone to normal life after punishment”.
Rehabilitated and strong.