The Government and public is well aware of the sacrifices prison officers make daily in an environment that can be uncertain, unpredictable and fraught with danger and risk, Minister of National Security the Hon. Tommy Turnquest said at the Prison’s Annual Church Service and Superintendent’s Awards held at Calvary Deliverance Church Sunday.

The service was held as part of Prison Recognition Week.

Mr. Turnquest said crime, and particularly violent crime in the country is still at unacceptable levels, and combating crime remains among the nation’s highest priorities.

“We know that our prison officers are challenged by the sheer numbers entering the prison,” he said. “There have been just under 2000 admissions to the prison so far this year. The average daily population is almost 1,400 persons and there are 210 persons in prison sentenced or remanded for murder.”

Mr. Turnquest said the theme for Prison Recognition Week 2008: “Crime Prevention Through Positive Intervention” tells the story of what the prison is, and has been doing, to help halt and reverse crime trends in The Bahamas.

He said in the prison’s reform framework, important initiatives are being taken to rehabilitate offenders, through education, training, productive engagement and spiritual and moral guidance and development.

“The objective is to provide a space in which inmates may grow and develop in a way that would improve their chances of successfully reintegrating into their communities upon release from prison.”

The Minister of National Security explained that the Government is satisfied that the Prison’s cooperation with other law enforcement agencies including the Royal Bahamas Police Force and the Royal Bahamas Defence Force and with the community as a whole, is helping to implement the reform agenda.

“Prison led community based initiatives such as Partners Against Crime and Students Against Violence Everywhere, for example, enhance the prospects that young people will be dissuaded from entering a life of crime.”

He told the prison offers that the Government is well on its way to resolving human resources challenges that have been a source of series concern for many of them.

Additionally, Mr. Turnquest said working conditions at the Female Correctional Centre have been improved, staff security has been enhanced, a new 40 unit Single Officers’ Living Facility will be ready in late 2009 and a Draft Department of Corrections Bill is under review.

He explained that there are two trailers of waterless toilets on the prison compound, which will be installed over the next three months that will improve the living conditions for inmates in maximum security while enhancing the working conditions for prison officers.

He added, “The Government wants to provide the opportunity for prison officers to pursue their goals and aspirations for upward mobility in the prison service. We want them to obtain the necessary qualifications and skills required at all levels in a 21st Century prison dedicated to prisoner reform.

“Prison service, we know, is not just a job. It is a commitment. I urge all our prison officers during Prison Recognition Week to renew your commitment to prison service. I urge you to continue to make honesty, dedication, integrity and loyalty to prison service guiding principles in the conduct of your duty.”

Superintendent of Prisons Dr. Elliston Rahming announced the 12 Prison Officers who received Peak Performance Awards for 2008 – 2009.

They are: Chief Officer Enoch Gaitor; Chief Officer Edwin Seymour; Sergeant James Stubbs; Sergeant Stephanie Pratt; Sergeant Nekkel Bethel; Sergeant Wayne; Sergeant Charles Wood; Corporal Leviticus Rolle; Corporal Lincoln Newbold; Officer Benjamin Rolle; Officer Pamela Sears and Nurse Delton Bain.