21 Inmates Graduate, Receive GED Diplomas

June 28, 2013

21 prison inmates received their GED certificates at ceremonies held on Wednesday [June 26], Public Safety Minister Michael Dunkley said this morning [June 28] in the House of Assembly.

There were 16 graduates at Westgate, and five at Co-Ed, and one of the graduates, a 20 year old female, returned to the facility specifically to receive her certificate. The graduates ranged from 18 to 47 years of age, and one of the Westgate graduates attained the Island’s highest score in Mathematics.

The programme is overseen by Ms. Shawnette Somner, the Department’s Education Officer.

“Those inmates who spoke shared their deep sense of achievement as a result of this milestone in their lives,” said Minister Dunkley. “It was especially moving for me to see inmates sentenced for a wide variety of offences reduced to tears when receiving the certificate recognizing their success.”

Minister Dunkley continued: “Incarceration is a punishment. Administering the sentences imposed by the Courts is a fundamental component of the mission of the Department of Corrections.

“However, if we fail to rehabilitate inmates; if we fail to properly equip them for a return to society, we are investing in further criminality and doing a disservice to the community at large.”

Minister Dunkley’s full statement follows below:

Mr. Speaker, the Mission Statement of the Department of Corrections includes a pledge to “empower inmates to be responsible and productive citizens”. The Department is also committed to ensuring that inmates on discharge lead useful lives.

Mr. Speaker, the most powerful tool in meeting the challenge of this Mission Statement is education. Therefore it gives me great pride to advise this Honourable House and the public of the most recent successes in the GED Programme within the Department of Corrections.

Mr. Speaker, two GED graduation ceremonies were held on Wednesday, 26th June and I was pleased to attend both of them. At the Co-Ed facility, five inmates graduated, three of whom had been released. Of the graduates, a 20 year old female returned to the facility specifically to receive her certificate. Graduates spoke in moving terms of the positive impact the programme and the officers administering it have had on their lives.

At Westgate, Mr. Speaker, there were 16 graduates. Honourable Members will be interested to know that one of the Westgate graduates attained the Island’s highest score in Mathematics.

Graduates ranged from 18 to 47 years of age. Those inmates who spoke shared their deep sense of achievement as a result of this milestone in their lives. Mr. Speaker, it was especially moving for me to see inmates sentenced for a wide variety of offences reduced to tears when receiving the certificate recognizing their success.

Mr. Speaker, for the information of Honourable Members, the programme is overseen by Ms. Shawnette Somner, the Department’s Education Officer. At Westgate the course instructors are:

  • Mrs Erlor Dean – English
  • Dr Glen Bascome – GED English
  • Mark Trott – Maths and Language
  • Ms Daltonell Minors – Math and Language

At the Co-Ed:

  • Mrs Anita Monk – GED Reading/English/Maths
  • Ms Maxine Saunders – Maths and Science

Mr. Speaker, at Westgate I was joined by Junior Minister Senator Jeff Baron, Senator Lynn Woolridge and Senator Alexis Swan. Each of them was likewise inspired by the ceremonies and joined with me in congratulating the staff and the successful inmates.

Mr. Speaker, incarceration is a punishment. Administering the sentences imposed by the Courts is a fundamental component of the mission of the Department of Corrections. However, if we fail to rehabilitate inmates; if we fail to properly equip them for a return to society, we are investing in further criminality and doing a disservice to the community at large.

Mr. Speaker, this Government supports the Commissioner of Corrections and his officers in the work that they do to renew lives and restore the men and women in their charge to productive citizens. The thriving GED programme represents the culmination of a year’s hard work. The value in this is seen not only in the transformation of the inmates but in the resource they represent for this community on their release.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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Comments (17)

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  1. Rhonda Neil says:

    Congrats to all, Amen PLP for investing in our people even if they don’t know it, and give credit where credit is due…..and this program ..

  2. PAMB says:

    S/O to My bwoy Speech who got his GED! Well done bredran! Soon see you again. The bay hasn’t been the same. Im still irritated that your in the position your in, but soon you will be out and learn from ya mistake. Bless up Star.. GIVE THANKS

  3. Candy stripes says:

    While seniors struggle!

  4. Shari-Lynn Pringle says:

    Congratulations to my sister, Shawnette Somner, former Education Officer, Sharon Wilkinson, the service providers (teachers) and staff at both of the correctional institutes for enabling these offenders the opportunity to get an education and a boost of hope that they might leave Westgate or CoEd with a renewed purpose in life.

    If you had the honour of witnessing the graduation, you would understand that this had little to do with political parties and everything to do with the dedicated individuals who are able to see beyond the crimes committed and play a part in bringing light and love to persons that quite obviously had very little prior to entering the facility.

    Candy stripes did you ever consider that some of these young men & women are incarcerated specifically because our seniors DID NOT struggle when they should have been? Think about it!!

    • Ole says:

      No disrespect but Ms Somner is simply her job. The work she is doing is not gratis.

      Kudos’s to the Govt for providing those graduates with the opportunity to obtain their GED..

    • foldgers says:

      i have to agree with your comments… a lot of people who roam free.. have done and are still doing what others have been incarcerated for.. either we want to rehabilitate or not.. you cannot have the mentality that candy stripes has.. oh yes lock them up!! but wait.. oh.. they are doing well… and here i am .. stagnant… and unsatisfied with my own life.. so i pick a cause to detract from the good.. the shining light of this programme .. so that my self righteousness can overshadow the fact that my conflict comes from my envy and resentment of persons who chose to spin a positive on a negative situation and i can only make noise as only an empty barrel can… i am also with ms pringle when it comes to the statement about seniors..

  5. bun out says:

    “and one of the graduates, a 20 year old female, returned to the facility specifically to receive her certificate.”

    wtf y would ya go back down der?! ya mad?!

    • Ride says:

      @bun out

      I believe they mean that she returned as a visitor to participate in the graduation ceremony having been successful meeting the requirements while incarcerated but having been released before the ceremony took place.

      She most likely returned because she was proud of her accomplishment and wished to fully partake in the achievement by being a part of the award ceremony.

      Well done to all of them. This is a good step toward being productive members of society. More and more I see job adverts for positions that a couple of years ago did not list educational requirements now listing them. The GED will assist them in obtaining legal gainful employment which should reduce their changes of recidivism.

      Ride

  6. Tired says:

    What difference does it make where she had to go to pick it up. You should just be proud of here for earning it.

  7. Life can sometimes throw its curve balls, but it is good to know that we get a chance to strike back at one of the balls and hit a home run.

    To all those who took the time and made the effort to do something positive, even in the midst of a negative situation, we congratulate you because you choose to equip yourself to go forward.

    Don’t worry about the nay Sayers and the critics, you can become very successful on the backs of a jackass.they are and always will be your stair case to success, I say the more the merrier.

  8. Good Stuff says:

    Congrats to all!

  9. Tom-E says:

    A big Congrats to each and every graduate!! This is just the beginning – You can continue this feeling of accomplishment by taking advantage of other educational opportunities while incarcerated and upon your release. Continue to do yourself a service and the community at large by using your time wisely.

    Remember…you can earn a law degree in Bermuda’s Prisons (true story)- the opportunities are endless

  10. Bermuda Cat says:

    Congrats to all inmates who graduated, I enjoy hearing news like this. Not to forget, and I wish all the young men and woman who are still working towards their GED the best of luck.

  11. Geneva says:

    Congrats to my nephew Jamal! Proud of your accomplishment! I know that you are going to do something positive when you are released.

  12. Reality Check says:

    Congrats to all of the graduates! Most important question…. What happens now? Will they be denied attendance at the Bermuda College for fear of coming into contact with their victim or their family? Would the public allow them to flourish as productive citizens? In this small community it is difficult for inmates to get a fresh start regardless of their total rehabilitation. Minister Dunkley, put your money where your mouth is to ensure that all deserving inmates have the opportunity to attend the Bermuda College. Education is the key for a productive community!