A year has passed since we began preparation for the arrival of the Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV or COVID-19) to national shores. To date we remain in combat mode to secure our facilities, staff and inmates against the burgeoning new strains of the virus – some proclaimed to be unresponsive to vaccinations already available in foreign markets.
While we continue to adapt to the not-so-new-normal of living in a pandemic; conversations department-wide have shifted slightly to include topics like SSP – Security Strengthening Project; Moving toward institutional food self-sufficiency through the Rehab Through Agriculture initiatives; retooling of the custodial workforce through competency based training; and the 2020 CSEC examinations successes of wards and inmates in spite of adverse environment under the Rehab through Education programmes.
The pandemic also necessitated a pivoting of the Information Systems resource to support remote/virtual engagement across the entire DCS network. This allowed the inmates and wards to see and speak to family and friends via the Zoom Meeting platform with the continued suspension of visits in effect.
We had our share of grief to deal with, all our staff and extended family members who passed in 2020 are honoured in our memory, and we commit to also honour them by maintaining integrity in our actions.
The focus for this new year, as always, is to build capacity in our business operations and at the individual level. I use this opportunity to urge you to make best use of every opportunity given to you. The measure by which you assess your success should only be that you are better version of yourself. Take the time to expand your knowledge-base, your perspectives and sharpen your mind and your habits to achieve whatever ambitions you set for yourself.
In the book Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by James Clear, the author describes how small things throw us off our path. The simple deviations in our journey that result in us missing our destination entirely. Clear advises that we should develop systems and processes that are directed toward achieving our desired outcome. He explains that couched in these processes are tiny habits that will yield remarkable results, not large, sporadic or overwhelming ones as we often practice.
The forecast for the Department of Correctional Services in 2021 is embedded in building capacity within the service. In the coming weeks you will become more acquainted with scheduled infrastructural and technological changes to be implemented under the International Development Bank [IDB] | Ministry of National Security’s [MNS] Security Strengthening Project [SSP]. This project will improve and enhance connectivity between Correctional and Probation Aftercare Centres to allow for more efficient management and accountability of the Department’s functions and tasks among other beneficial technological features.
Additionally, the Department continues to strengthen its human resource through professional upgrading programmes and competency based certification steered on by Carl Rattray Staff College. This takes place in alignment with our revamped promotions policy, the Department has begun to benefit from a suite of training programmes categorized by the service’s ranks and corresponding job descriptions to retool the workforce and meet the changing demands of correctional services.
As we make bold steps and purpose our course toward working smarter not harder, I invite you my team to subscribe completely to secure this brighter future of DCS, where we truly achieve our mandate – to be the Caribbean Centre of Excellence in Correctional Management.