Prison Symposium Focuses on Crime in The Bahamas

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Minister of State for Immigration, Senator, the Hon. Elma Campbell (second left) responds to a question during a Crime Prevention Symposium hosted Monday, March 10 (2008) by Her Majesty’s Prison, Fox Hill. The symposium was held under the theme: “Crime in The Bahamas: Causes, Consequences, Cures.” Pictured from left are: Ms. Missouri Sherman-Peter, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of National Security, Minister Campbell, Dr. Elliston Rahming, Superintendent of Prisons and Commodore Clifford W. Scavella, Commander, Defence Force. (Photo/Patrick Hanna)

By: Matt Maura

NASSAU, Bahamas –
Stemming the violence and killings that are claiming young male lives while causing the prison system to be populated with many other young Bahamian males, continue to be two of the major priorities of the Government of The Bahamas, Minister of State for Immigration Senator, the Hon. Elma Campbell said Monday.

Addressing a Crime Prevention Symposium at Her Majesty’s Prison, Senator Campbell said officials at the correctional facility should be applauded for staging the symposium as it “clearly reflects” the national resolve to work individually and collectively to halt and reverse recent disturbing trends in crime and criminality in The Bahamas.

The symposium was held with the objective of investigating the causes, consequences and cures for crime in The Bahamas.

Senator Campbell said the symposium also provided government and law enforcement officials with an opportunity to hear from persons convicted of committing crimes as they move forward in formulating and implementing effective crime prevention policies and strategies.

It also, she noted, allows inmates to hear from victims of crimes and for ex-offenders to share their views and experiences on their efforts to reintegrate into society.

“The Government needs input from the broadest cross-section of our country and our communities if we are to appropriately address contemporary crime problems in The Bahamas,” Ms. Campbell said. “It needs input to formulate and implement effective crime prevention and criminal justice policies and strategies.”

Senator Campbell said the symposium is part of a coherent plan of action that is being taken to help fight crime and criminality in The Bahamas and the scope of work that must be done.

“In this context, gatherings including the National Assembly on Crime which was convened in September 2007, the more recent National Youth Anti-Crime and Anti-Violence Forum held February 2008, and this symposium, help to clarify the facts and stakeholders’ opinions of the facts. This in turn, makes for a more comprehensive, strategic approach to crime prevention and criminal justice,” Ms. Campbell said.

Senator Campbell pointed out that during the National Assembly on Crime, the voices of civil society, law enforcement and academia were heard and that action is being taken.

She said the voices of the young people of The Bahamas were heard in the Youth Forum and action is being taken with regards to the recommendations coming out of those discussions.

“Today, the voices of the convicted inmates of Her Majesty’s Prison will be heard. Inmates will hear the voices of victims of crime (and) Community Representatives will hear the views and experiences of ex-offenders, in particular, on their efforts to reintegrate into Bahamian society.

“What we hear today in this symposium will no doubt provide information and raise awareness in a way that will broaden the crime prevention and criminal justice agenda. It is forums such as this that make national policies and strategies more holistic and comprehensive and help to build a national, united front against crime and criminality.

“Importantly, with the facts in hand, action taken can be commensurate with the manifestation, dimensions and severity of the problem. This is the approach being taken by the National Crime Council in carrying out its mandate to advise government on strategic approaches it might take to crime and criminality and the fear of crime in The Bahamas,” Ms. Campbell added.

The Minister of State for Immigration said strategies to engage a significant majority of the country’s young men “positively and constructively” in the development of their country and communities is critical, and that there is a “desperate need” for role models and mentors.

“The service clubs, fraternities and Lodges that have developed programmes for young men and women are to be commended. Others are urged to do the same,” Senator Campbell added.