Prison Recognition Week got underway Friday with a Historical and Arts and Craft Exhibition, showcasing products produced by inmates at Her Majesty’s Prison, Fox Hill. The exhibition is being held at the Mall at Marathon.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of National Security Missouri Sherman-Peter said the exhibition should “shed some light” on the positive developments that are possible within the Prison System.

“It is surprising the number of people who think that prisons are really bad places where wrongdoers are sent to be severely punished and that nothing positive can come of such institutions,” Mrs. Sherman-Peter said.

“This Historical and Arts and Craft Exhibition should give some insight into the positive developments that have been going on in The Bahamas’ prison system for more than one decade now.

“Given the prison reform priorities of Her Majesty’s Prison, it is certainly within contemplation that we may one day see the production of arts and crafts tailored to meet business and public demands for such items,” Mrs. Sherman-Peter added.

Mrs. Sherman-Peter said Her Majesty’s Prison is “progressively being transformed” from an institution focused on crime and punishment, to one that is focused on criminal justice, correction and rehabilitation. She said there is “good reason” for the rethinking and retooling of prison philosophy and management strategies.

“There are some 1,300 inmates in Her Majesty’s Prison, the overwhelming majority of whom are young men in the prime of their lives,” Mrs. Sherman-Peter said. “The value of engaging as many of them as possible in productive activities is critical for them, for the institution and for our communities and country.

“Naturally, Her Majesty’s Prison is making its critical contribution to the prevention of crime and the rehabilitation of offenders,” Mrs. Sherman Peter continued, “(but) it is also providing inmates with educational and training opportunities as well as work schemes, to help develop marketable skills.

“Its initiatives are focused, in particular, on education, training and providing those skills needed for gainful employment, including self-employment,” she added.

Mrs. Sherman-Peter said “ambitious new policies and programmes” are progressively being introduced at Her Majesty’s Prison Correctional Institute. She said the programmes are geared toward ensuring inmates use the time they are incarcerated to “better prepare him or herself” to be good, productive citizens upon release from the prison.

She said “determined efforts” are also being made to enhance the prospects for successful re-integration of ex-offenders into their communities.

“This exhibition showcases the depth of the talent that inmates are being encouraged to develop at Her Majesty’s Prison,” she said. “The range of items on display is an indication of the depth of innovation and creativity of the inmates. Importantly, it is an indication of the new skills they are learning at the Correctional Institute.”

Mrs. Sherman-Peter said “there is much to be said” for the establishment and promotion of such enterprises within the Prison as they will not only provide gainful activity and incentive for inmates, but will also demonstrate that “prisons must have a vision for the future.”

“The person an inmate is the day he leaves prison is more important than the person the inmate was when he or she entered,” Mrs. Sherman-Peter said.