Operation Future introduces Rehabilitation through Music and Art Program at HMP

BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS (May 10, 2013) — Operation Future is pleased to announce that with the financial assistance of the Canadian Fund For Local Initiatives and in partnership with Her Majesty’s Prison, a Rehabilitation through Music and Art Program is being introduced into HMP.

Prison is supposed to serve a number of functions, primarily the protection of the general public by removing those considered dangerous from the community. HMP is successful in this function.

Punishment is often cited as a role of the prison; however, this is not entirely accurate. The sentencing to a prison is considered punishment as having your basic freedom removed is considered punishment in the criminal justice system. Arguably, HMP goes a step further; HMP is certainly punishment, by the inmates’ removal from the community and also the harsh conditions under which they face incarceration.

Prison is also said to be a general and specific deterrence, meaning fear of getting caught and being incarcerated prevents people from committing crimes. And, following this logic, an extension would be the harsher the punishment the greater the deterrence. There is very little evidence to support the theory that fear of incarceration and severe penalties act as a deterrent. If it was this simple there are many States in the U.S. which should have no crime rate, they commonly utilize the death penalty, sentence people to multiple life times and introduced the third strike rule where a third felony conviction results in a mandatory life sentence. And, yet crime continues and the U.S. leads the developed nations in incarceration rates.

In reality few who commit crimes consider the consequences of their actions until it is too late. This continues even with those who have been caught in the past and once back on the street continue to embrace the criminal life style, continue to offend and join the statistics of people who join the evolving door of prisons.

The average person lives without violating the laws because they have ingrained in them a code of moral values that says it is wrong to break the law, not for fear of getting caught. Everyone has the opportunity to break the law numerous times a day, from shop lifting, to stealing from your neighbour, to simply speeding and disobeying traffic laws, and yet most people resist the temptation to violate the laws even when they know they will escape detection. We abide by the laws because we simply know it is wrong not too.

In recent times a new word has merged in the lexicon associated to criminal justice, rehabilitation. Rehabilitation presumes that criminal behaviour is learned and not nature, as such it can be unlearned through counselling, training and proper instruction etc. those convicted of crimes can be returned to society and lead productive lives.

It is in this area where prisons see the greatest challenges; first world nations with huge budgets continue to see their prisons with revolving doors. An area that has seen some success is nonconventional rehabilitation programs based in the fine arts such as music and art. In institutions that have introduced rehabilitation through music and art they have seen:

1. A reduction in recidivism rates amongst younger inmates;

2. An increase in enrolment in traditional rehabilitation programs amongst older inmates;

3. A general reduction in violence and institutional violations amongst the general population making the institution safer and more manageable for staff.

Operation Future working with Mr. Dorset and Her Majesty’s Prison proposed the development of a Rehabilitation through Music and Art Program for Her Majesty’s Prison, an application was made in December of 2012 to the Canadian Fund For Local Initiatives to obtain financing for such a program which was approved and construction began in February of 2013.

Key to the program is input by inmates — they designed the facility, constructed the facility and are providing the necessary expertise to train other inmates in both Music and Art. Simultaneously with the Music and Art Program the inmates will be introduced to counselling programs such as anger management. The goal will be for incarcerated inmates, particularly youth, to work towards their own rehabilitation.

May 2nd saw the introduction of Anger Management as 15 inmates were enrolled in a 10 week anger management program taught by members of Operation Future, members of Operation Future were certified to introduce this program developed by The John Howard Society, Toronto in a two day workshop held at the Marriot sponsored by Operation Future in August 2012.

The formula where inmate driven rehabilitation programs have seen success has been demonstrated already in HMP with the CXC preparation and education programs initiated and run by Mr. Newrish Nital.

Rehabilitation means more than employability it also must encompass concepts such as self-esteem and seeing oneself as something more than a criminal. In addition, with the growing tourist sector inmates skilled in art and music may be able to generate income through self-employment upon their release.

The next stage to this project will be to establish a venue to market products produced through the Rehabilitation through Music and Art Program to the public. Funds generated will be distributed between Her Majesty’s Prison to fund this and additional programs, to Operation Future to assist in funding its youth programs and for the inmate themselves to fund their lives, provide support for their children and to provide some form of finances when they are released from custody.

Operation Future is proud to be part of this initiative, wishes to extend its respect to Mr. Franklin Dorset and other staff members that support this initiative who recognize the importance of rehabilitation and consider non-traditional programs, also recognize the willingness of inmates to assist other inmates with rehabilitation efforts and allow such a program to be introduced on a shoe string budget and finally gives thanks to the Canadian Fund For Local Initiative for their confidence in such a program.

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