(CMR) The staff at Her Majesty’s Cayman Islands Prison Service (HMCIPS) were celebrated recently for their exceptional dedication in helping to make Cayman’s communities safer, especially during the coronavirus pandemic.
The event, held on March 11, was also used to mark the 40th anniversary of HMCIPS, with many of the speeches reflecting on the Prison Service’s progress and future.
During the event, the HMCIPS team members were praised for their responses during a highly active hurricane season and the COVID-19 pandemic, which has tested prison services worldwide.
The event also sought to shine a light on the unsung work prison staff do every day of the year to look after the wellbeing and care of inmates and support them through their rehabilitation journey.
During his remarks, Director of Prisons Steven Barrett highlighted some examples of officers going above and beyond in the line of duty.
“Even during strict COVID restrictions, you facilitated over 2,000 virtual visits to ensure family contact was maintained and graduated 11 prisoners with National Center for Construction Education and Research qualifications, delivered over 160,000 purposeful activity hours, and managed to find time to support community projects,” Barrett said.
“Our kitchens also provided hot meals to the pensioners in the district of Bodden Town during COVID curfew times, and 20 members of the Staff Football Club did a huge amount of work to clean up and renovate the Crisis Centre, Frances Bodden Children’s Home, and the Scranton Community Park in George Town. Most of your work is done away from the gaze of the public and without fanfare, but I can tell you this – it is no less appreciated,” he added.
Reflecting on the unique role and responsibilities of the position, Barrett also recalled to those gathered for the event what it takes to be a prison officer.
“Working in prisons, regardless of where they are in the world, and regardless of the role performed, is without question one of the most difficult, demanding, frustrating, yet rewarding, enriching, and character-building professions that anyone can do. There is no greater responsibility than that which is central to the roles carried out by prison staff. There are not many, or perhaps any other jobs, which present the dynamic range of challenges as those presented to you in your work,” Barrett stated.
Minister of Home Affairs Tara Rivers also praised the prison officers for their outstanding work.
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank each one of you for dedicating your lives to improving the lives of others. Your willingness to deliver services that are not conducted in full view of the public requires a special set of qualities not found in many other professions,” said Minister for Home Affairs Tara Rivers in her opening remarks.
“I am keenly aware that your family members and others in your immediate support networks play a key role, as, without them, you would not be able to serve your country and community as you do. Some of you took the difficult decision to separate from your loved ones for a period of time during the height of the COVID-19 lockdown to reduce the risks to their health and safety, and I would like to take this opportunity to express my sincere appreciation to all of them for this, and all of the other sacrifices they have made and will continue to make, in the interest of public safety,” Rivers noted.
Members of staff in each team within the department were recognized for their contributions during the Cayman Islands’ unprecedented challenges in 2020, amplified by the added demands for security and uninterrupted service.
Deputy Governor Franz Manderson presented long service awards to Deputy Director Claira Range and Custody Manager Richard Barton, who have invested 40 years in the Prison Service.
Also in attendance were Governor Martyn Roper and representatives from partner agencies, including the Department of Community Rehabilitation (DCR), Health Services Authority (HSA), Royal Cayman Islands Police Service, Department of Public Safety Communications (DPSC), and the Cayman Islands Fire Service (CIFS).
Representatives from DCR and HSA were thanked for their long-standing, close working relationship.