The Department of Rehabilitative/Welfare Services will celebrate Rehabilitation Week starting November 3 – 8, showcasing some of the services the Department offers.

At a press conference announcing activities for the week, Undersecretary in the Ministry Carl Brennen said the week’s theme: “Rehabilitation: Opens Doors to a New Beginning” encompasses the mission and role of the Department in repairing and improving the lives of offenders and ex-offenders.

“The Department’s aim is to provide quality rehabilitative services to offenders by implementing programmes and sponsoring activities that would control the inappropriate and unacceptable behaviour of offenders,” he said.

The Department of Rehabilitative/Welfare Services comprises the Probation Division, the Simpson Penn Centre for Boys, the Willie Mae Pratt Centre for Girls and the Welfare Division at Her Majesty’s Prison.

“These agencies,” Mr. Brennen said, “seek to protect society by helping offenders become accountable and responsible for their actions, encouraging and preparing offenders to seek employment, fostering levels of education and addressing those persons who re-offend.

“Through rehabilitation these individuals’ lives can be restored and new doors opened for them to become useful citizens. Rehabilitation helps to develop positive attitudes; creates learning opportunities in academics and vocational studies; enhances family and social relationships and assists in community reintegration.”

He explained that the Department of Rehabilitative/Welfare Services operates as an arm of the criminal justice system, which includes the Courts, Royal Bahamas Police Force, and Her Majesty’s Prison.

“Like these agencies, the Department faces challenges that negatively impact our society
Challenges include uncontrollable behaviour by our youths, drug use and abuse, lack of proper parenting, domestic violence and murder.

“Programmes such as individual and group counselling are conducted to help those persons who offend the law to develop positive social relationships and engage in lifestyle enhancing activities.”

Deputy Director of the Department Marva Russell-Minns said by the end of Rehabilitation Week, the public should understand more about the services the Department offers.

Ms. Russell-Minns said, “Not only do we counsel people at this office, we also have social workers in the Simpson Penn School for Boys and the Willie Mae Pratt Centre for Girls, as well as Her Majesty’s Prison.

“We meet the entire needs of the person whenever they offend the law and they are referred to the Department.”

She said the Department also offers programmes for juveniles such as a volunteer supervisory programme where parents/guardians who are having problems with their children can go to the Department for counselling with them.

In addition, for a number of years it has offered parenting classes.

The Week begins Monday, November 3, with a school forum at the BCPOU Hall designed to empower and equip primary and high school students with knowledge and information needed for positive transformation. A similar event will take place in South Eleuthera on November 14.

Wednesday, November 5, there will be a church service at Bethel Baptist Church on Meeting Street.

Thursday, November 6, there will be a parenting forum at C R Walker Secondary school on Baillou Hill Road that will address the topic: The Signs and Symptoms of Delinquency and How to Deal with Them. The public is invited to attend these events.