Call for halfway house for ex-cons
CONVICTED MANSLAYER Jerry “Dan” Weekes is calling on Government to provide halfway housing facilities to assist ex-convicts in their reintegration into society.
The popular former deejay, recently released from Her Majesty’s Prisons Dodds, after a 14-year sentence for the 2001 killing of Brian Whittaker, said it was one means of dealing with the high rate of recidivism in Barbados.
Speaking from his St Peter home, Weekes said it was often an initially difficult period for people leaving prison after serving lengthy sentences. He noted that frequently social ostracism, inability to find employment and housing, among other factors, led convicts to return to criminality and prison.
He explained that the setting of a halfway house would give former prisoners the chance to reintegrate into society in a controlled environment.
Although the 38-year-old noted that there was already an in-house reintegration programme called Thinking And Living Skills, he was adamant that six months was too short a period to try to equip a person with all the necessary skills to get back into society and function well.
He added this was particularly applicable to a prisoner who had served a very long sentence.
“I think Barbados needs to get up to the time . . . of what is reality and what is going on now in the world. I could understand the Government would be saying they don’t have the money to do it, they don’t have this or that to do it. Yes, there are some [former convicts] that criminality is implanted in them.
“But what about the desperate guy who, don’t matter what, just wants the three basic needs of life? What’s going to happen to him?
“At least Government can go to Parliament, pass the law, put it on the books so it would be there in an event that somebody else comes up to the plate. Sometimes I ask myself if the system is there to be reactive because Barbados doesn’t see putting certain measures in place to deter crime as pivotal,” Weekes said.
Additionally, he has called for a supplemental facility to house first-time offenders or people convicted of misdemeanours rather than to imprison them with hardened criminals in the main prison.
Weekes explained that this union only created more criminals as the younger inmates then perfected their “craft” through the knowledge acquired from the seasoned prisoners.
“I’ve sat in prison for many years and I’ve listened to these youths. I’ve seen fellows come in for just a misdemeanour and they left with the intention that they ready to take on the world criminally. They go to prison for breaking a house and are among hardened criminals who teach them how to break that same house and don’t get caught or even how they can steal the whole house.”
Stressing that it was better for Government to look at all possible preventative measures rather than merely be reactionary, Weekes said that in the final analysis it was the taxpayers who had to pay for an increased prison population and rising criminal activity in the society.
“They [taxpayers] are the ones paying to keep that place running. So why not try to find a result that you can have the prison population cut. For such a small place like Barbados, the prison is over-populated. When you check it more and more young going up, so what does that spell for the future of the country? Something needs to be done before it is too late.” (SDB Media)