Westgate Hosts ‘Community Reintegration Fair’

March 28, 2012

Nine private sector companies and over a dozen helping or Government agencies turned up for the Department of Correction’s “Bridging the Gap Vll: Community Reintegration Fair” held this morning [Mar.28] at Westgate Correctional Facility.

The private sector companies were companies that are willing to hire recently or just released prison inmates. These companies were there so that current inmates could link up with them now, prior to their release at the end of their sentence. The Government and helping agencies were also offering post-release help.

Prisons Commissioner Lt. Col Edward Lamb, said that of the 190 persons currently at Westgate, about 120 – 130 would be eligible to take part in this morning’s event which functioned much like a job fair.

He said that of the 120 – 130, he anticipated that about 80 – 90 were likely to take advantage of the fair and put in an appearance. Men not eligible were those in the maximum security section and men on remand. A few men were also on assigned duties and would be unable to attend because of that.

Private sector firms involved included Bermuda Air Conditioning, Butterfield and Vallis, Bermuda General Contracting Services, PALM Ltd, Trinity Construction Ltd, Woodzyz Touch, D& J Construction Ltd, Home Design Development Construction, and Island Construction.

Government, helping and self improvement agencies present included Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Focus Counseling, Bermuda Hospitals Board, Bermuda Housing Corporation, Financial Assistance, Community Education, Cartel – Transfiguration Ministry, Dream in Colour, National Training Board, Labour & Training, Men’s Treatment Centre, Prison Fellowship, Hustle Truck, and the Bermuda College.

Lt. Col Lamb’s opening remarks:

Inmates came in tranches of about 12 and, at the fair, were free to go where they pleased during their time at the fair. Contacts made at this fair could be maintained by the inmate who would have to inform his ‘case manager’ who would then undertake to expedite any actions needed in order to help towards securing a post-release job interview, possibly even a post-release job, for the inmate.

One inmate who chose to speak with Bernews, and said that he was not afraid to identify himself was 28-year-old Jamel Nisbett. He said that he was due for release on Friday coming and that he was ready to “get back to life.” He said that he had been incarcerated since February of this year, but that this was not his first incarceration.

Asked if he had a job waiting, he said no, but he had no fears about making it once he was released. He said that he was a single man, had no children, and had a home to go to.

He said that before being locked up he had been involved in the business of Fitness and Nutrition. Mr Nisbett said that when and after he got out on Friday he would concentrate on: “Truth-seeking. Truth – revealing.”

He also said that a lesson that he had learned from this experience was that, “We must take full responsibility for ourselves and stop losing ourselves.”

Another inmate who chose not to be identified said that he he had been incarcerated since July 2011. He was now due for release in August this year. Prior to his incarceration, had been working in the Air Conditioning field; but had been laid off in the first round of lay-offs in 2010 because he had no qualifications.

He was carrying brochures from BAC, the Bermuda College, and Community Education. He said that he intended to get qualifications in the ‘HVAC’ field and get back to working in that area. Asked how he was making out, he replied: “Alright. I’m living through it. I’m good.”

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Comments (7)

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  1. Concerned says:

    This is a good initiative.

  2. Um Um Like says:

    Kudos to the private companies and government agencies that attended, and to those individuals who want to be reintegrated into society, but somebody please explain…

    Unemployment in Bermuda is at an all-time high. Hundreds of people are, on a daily basis, looking for some form of legitimate employment. Yet there are companies seemingly showing more interest in hiring ex-convicts than hiring those who have not burdened society?!

  3. Hard Work says:

    WEll I have hired them before I must say while they are locked up they are the best workers once they are free well thats another story . I have not had too many success stories to be honest

  4. Cleancut says:

    The appointment of this Parachuted sgt/maj is slowly coming home to roost.

  5. We Like says:

    This is an excellent initiative, well done.

  6. Union Member says:

    Great initiative Corrections and well done to the private employers that are seeking to give inmates and opportunity to work upon when they are released. Having employment and shelter are two significant factors in determining whether an inmate reoffends. Now we must make sure there is continuity to the process. This may already happen, but just in case it hasnt:

    Collaborate with potential employers to training to inmates prior to release.
    Mandate educational/training course for all inmates

    Set up industries (catering/woodwork/garderning) to help offset cost of housing inmates which also teaches them new skill sets

    Collaborate with Finnce to provide tax incentives for businesses that hire inmates and have them on staff for a year (this would be better use of the public purse than paying $80k for each prisoner)

  7. Truth is killin' me... says:

    Sooo come work at my house for BAC…stake out the joint, relapse and rob me later. Sounds good! Point a gun at my daughter while you’re at it.