The Department of Correctional Services in the Jamaican context has as part of its mandate, the rehabilitation of offenders; thus reducing the risk they pose to the wider society and themselves. The Step Out And Strive (S.O.A.S) Programme is an initiative of the probation aftercare services within the Department of Correctional Services. SOAS is a structured intervention programme of engaging modules with a musical flair. This programme was developed to provide prospective parolees as well as other eligible inmates with a viable mechanism to aid in the process of their rehabilitation and reintegration. The primary aim of the programme is to encourage behavior change amongst the participants. This milestone could not have been achieved without the collaborated efforts of the team from the Probation Aftercare services. Gratitude is being extended to the Director of Probation Aftercare Services, CSO/Parole Coordinator, Chief Probation Aftercare officer (Region 1), Principal and Probation Aftercare Officers (Institution offices) and secretaries for their invaluable support and tremendous work. We are confident that this initiative will assist the positive change of beliefs, values and attitude.
A significant number of these individuals return to the wider society within a three-year period. Subsequently, Probation Aftercare Officers, through various intervention strategies, seek to reduce recidivism amongst them. Studies have shown that relevant interventions have served to contribute to a change in the mindset of inmates thereby empowering them to function effectively after they return to open society.
S.O.A.S) is a cognitive behavioural programme which seeks to provide offenders with opportunities to examine the complex concepts of:
- Beliefs, Values and Attitudes
- Anger Management
The ultimate goal is to assist offenders in the practice of self-management and self-control thereby enabling them to function as holistic individuals in the institution and the wider society.
The primary objectives are to:
- Provide a platform from which offenders will be able to make informed and responsible decisions
- Assist participants to understand that their socialization and environment are contributory influences to their thoughts and decisions.
- Facilitate participants in recognizing that thoughts influence feeling, behaviour, attitudes and beliefs.
- Expose participants to social skills that could enable them to effectively manage their anger.
- Provide activities that should empower participants to garner the required skills needed to independently make appropriate decisions. This should enable cohesive existence amongst their peers and others in conjunction with societal norms.
The programme is designed to meet the needs of incarcerated individuals who are approaching their parole eligibility date within six months or more and other suitable short- term inmates. However, this programme can also be used across the spectrum of the Department of Correctional Services. It will be facilitated through group activities with offenders at designated areas within the Department of Correctional Services’ facilities.