Two senior Bahamian correctional officers are in the province as part of an exchange training program between Canada and the island country.
Correctional Services Canada (CSC) and Her Majesty’s Prison Bahamas recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that will help facilitate the modernization of the Bahamian penal system and bring it in line with international conventions and best practices.
Under the agreement, CSC will work with the Bahamian correctional system to improve its policies, technology, security intelligence, correctional programs, facility planning, research & evaluation, data gathering and training and leadership development.
Acting Deputy Superintendents Doan Cleare and Bernardette Murray have been in Ontario since February 27 attending training seminars and touring large and medium security facilities across the province.
“The primary reason for signing the agreement was to establish a solid relationship between our country and Canada in the area of corrections,” said Cleare, who joined Her Majesty’s Prison 21 years ago. “We recognize that Canada has a lot to offer in this field as we embark on a strategy to develop and implement training programs to build the skills, competencies and capabilities of the people that work with us that deliver services at all levels of our institution. This is just another phase as we move towards reforming our prison system and making it a fulfilling environment for everyone who is part of it.”
In addition to visiting several provincial prison institutions, including Joyceville, Collins Bay and Millhaven, Cleare and Murray have attended several meetings and networking events such as the Association of Black Law Enforcers annual awards ceremony, where they had the opportunity to meet Canada’s first Black police chief and other high-ranking police leaders.
Jamaican-born Devon Clunis heads the Winnipeg Police Department.
“We are here to get an idea of how CSC operates, learn about best practices and how we can use those things to take our organization to the next level,” said Murray, who is the highest ranking female employee with Her Majesty’s Prison. “But we also relish the opportunity to socialise and network with Canadian law enforcement officers and in the process share our experiences.”
Togo-born Gideon Nekou, who joined CSC five years ago after migrating to Canada in 2001, and CSC regional recruitment manager Jacqueline Edwards, who is based in Kingston, accompanied the Bahamian officers to the ABLE event.
“This was an opportunity for them to see that we have a progressive Black law enforcement organization along with Blacks and minorities who are doing well in law enforcement in Canada,” said Edwards, a former president of the National Council of Visible Minorities in the Federal Public Service.
CSC commissioner Don Head joined Bahamian Minister of National Security Dr. Bernard Nottage for the MOU signing in the Bahamas five months ago.
“We are committed to bringing about genuine prison reform,” Nottage said at the time. “We cannot be content with just warehousing inmates and operating a revolving door. Our mandate is clear. It is to ensure the operation of a safe and secure facility that is characterised by discipline and orderliness and one in which compassion and opportunity signal the way forward.
“Canada and the Bahamas enjoy a constructive multi-facet relationship based on shared Commonwealth history. Our countries also work closely in multinational forums such as the United Nations and the Organization of American States. On a bilateral basis, Canada has worked with the Bahamian police in battling organized crime through the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. On the tourism front, the Bahamas receives between 115,000 and 131,000 Canadian tourists annually.”
Two more officers from Her Majesty’s Prison – which employs 450 officers and 50 civilians at seven facilities with a population of nearly 1,400 – will arrive in Canada in September for training.