My World

The world according to me!

Crime and Punishment

We’re trapped in a vicious cycle of crime and violence in T&T. Is seems the police can’t manage the crime situation. Fortunately it seems to be concentrated in specific areas, and within specific groups. But the truth is that’s hallow comfort, because people are still being killed, and the security forces don’t seem to have a clue as to how to arrest the spiral.

Jail in Trinidad & Tobago has been described as a university for criminals. You get arrested for petty theft, you spend some time in jail and come out knowing how to commit fraud. You get arrested for fraud and get schooled in T&T’s drug trade, and so on and so on. Jail is a punishment yes, but shouldn’t we use that opportunity to help those people whose lives made getting the help they needed difficult? The ones whose histories led them to lives that include time in jail?

It’s not surprising that a search of the Golden Grove Prison could reveal all kinds of weapons and drugs. As for the prison officers; when they not threatening your life, they encouraging criminal behaviour.

Lets not forget, prison work is hard work. It’s so easy to lose sight of your values, when you’re over-stressed and under paid. Every day has the potential to be the worse day of your life, and you have to deal with society’s rejects. It’s a nasty and dangerous job in many respects, and that may be why our prisons contribute to our crime problem rather than help solve it.

A week ago I spoke to Developmental Psychologist Dr. Karen Moore about literacy and crime. She helped dispel many of the myths associated with the criminals and their assumed levels of intelligence. However she did say if the prison system had a literacy programme, we would see the re-offending rate drop significantly.

I know ALTA has a prison literacy programme, but ALTA is a charity. I’m not sure if the programme is a permanent part of the prison rehabilitation programme. As for having psychologist attached to the prisons, I would like to think they have, but that department is probably understaffed.

I think we need to incorporate innovative programmes that fuel duel needs. Rehabilitation must be one, and it could form part of any combination of therapy, sustainability and education. I love the idea of “greening” our prisons. Make them more energy efficient, and give the prisoners the job of helping the conversions, and after that, make them responsible for the work and maintenance of the system. They’ll learn real skills that could help them when they return to the “real world”.

Another programme I love is using prisoners to train stray dogs. Animal-based therapies have shown to be really beneficial to people with serious emotional and mental barriers. I love the idea of using strays in the programmes, so prisoners can actually help save an animal’s life while helping themselves heal. We have a major stray-dog problem in Trinidad & Tobago, and it would be good to give these animals  a second chance. I even like the though of using animals in old-people’s homes, but I digress.

I just wonder if we’re at a point where we’re willing and able to think outside the box, and implement policies designed to really do the things we need them to do.  I mean, people can’t keep dying like this, and nothing is being done.

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