In the early 1960’s, the Probation and Welfare Office of the Cayman Islands was established under the Government Portfolio having responsibility for social services. The Probation of Offenders Law (1963) and the Poor Persons Relief Law (1963) provided inter alia for the entity formation and delivery of welfare assistance to the general public as well as community based services to the Judiciary, including the Juvenile Court, which was the main focus during that time. In the early 1980’s a decision was made to have all Government community services under one Department. The Probation and Welfare Officer was absorbed under the umbrella of the newly formed Department of Social Services.
As a result of the need for specialized services to be provided to the Judicial Department, Probation Services re-emerged in 1985, with focus being on Court ordered adult supervision of offenders. These services were provided by a team which consisted of 2 Probation Officers, who were located at the Court Building. During the tenure of the Probation Team, although services were limited, services were expanded to include two newly formed supervisory community based programmes: (1) Prisoner Release on Licence (Parole Programme) and (2) the Court Attendance Order Programme designed for drug offenders needing substance abuse counseling.
In 1998 further changes and restructuring took place and the probation services were again moved back under the Department of Social Services. As a result the Probation Aftercare Unit was established, and in addition to the 2 Probation Officers, a Unit Supervisor was employed to develop and oversee the Unit. During this time, various probation services were developed or expanded, which included the employment of a Community Service Coordinator to supervise persons on Community Service Orders. The Probation Aftercare Unit’s main clientele and focus were and continued to be on adult offenders (17 years and older).
In 2003, while under the Ministry of Community Service, Youth, Sports and Gender Affairs the Probation Aftercare Unit was again separated from the Department of Social Services and located on Walker’s Road, but this time the Unit was appointed as an independent entity that would report directly to the Ministry. Still functioning as an independent Unit, in 2005 the Probation Aftercare Unit was placed under the Ministry of Health and Human Services.
By the end of 2005, the Unit was functioning with a staff complement of 13 staff in Grand Cayman and 1 in Cayman Brac, including the newly introduced post of Probation Officer Graduate for young Caymanian graduates. The Unit established an office in Cayman Brac for the first time in September 2005 but prior to this, staff from the Department of Children and Family Services provided the probation and parole services required in Cayman Brac. A wide variety of services were offered both in Grand Cayman and Cayman Brac consisting of: Pre-sentencing and Pre-release reports to the Court and Parole Board, community supervision of persons both on Court Orders and Parole Licenses, Educational and Preventative Group Programmes in the community and prisons viz Anger Management, Domestic Violence, Parole, Stress Management groups, as well as other services, in conjunction with partner agencies.
On 31st July 2006 approval was given to change the designation of the Probation Aftercare Unit to a Department. The structure was revised and three Teams were established – the Administrative Team, the Court Team and the Through/Aftercare Team. This ensured adequate coverage and effective supervision of clients who were serving community based sentences and while providing intervention during imprisonment. The approval to be a Department and the structural changes came at a crucial time, when both the new Alternative Sentencing Law (2006) and Drug Rehabilitation Court Law (2006) were passed.
These new initiatives began the Department’s move to specialized services. It was envisaged that the Drug Rehabilitation Court would require intensive services to clients to facilitate a case management process that was in compliance with the court’s procedures. Hence, an officer was designated to this programme when the Court started on October 01, 2007.
The year 2007 could be viewed as a watershed year as the Department took steps to enhance its public education and training programmes. A Probation and Parole Week was introduced and included an international conference to expose staff to current approaches to rehabilitation in Criminal Justice Systems. The success of the first conference including much media exposure and public as well as multi-agency interests, encouraged the Department into strengthening its advocacy efforts on behalf of the mentally ill. Hence, the Probation and Parole Week 2008 focused on advocating for a mental health court to meet the needs of mentally ill offenders. As a result of the Department’s lobbying on behalf of the mentally ill, a special sitting of the Summary Court designated the Mental Health Court began and by 2012 an Officer was assigned to mental health offenders.
During 2007 the Department was also forced to revisit its services to the prison and shared in plans for sentence planning as well as review of the parole process. Although group work was stopped in the Prison, by 2008, the Department maintained linkages with sentence planning and shared in discussion to enhance rehabilitation efforts in the custodial institutions. A highlight during 2008 was the shared training of prison staff and DCR staff in use of LSCMI assessment. By this time the Department was also situated at its new location in Cayman Centre.
The Department entered a period of rapid growth and expansion between 2009 and 2010. The Courts had begun a special (virtual) sitting for participants of the Men’s Nonviolence Programme (MNVP) and the high number of participants as well as the intense follow-up necessary necessitated an Officer being assigned to this special service. The MNVP also highlighted the need to separate victim services so that needs highlighted by both perpetrator and victim could be better addressed. Overseas training was accessed and both the DV and Victim Services Officers were assigned in 2010.
The pace of expansion and enhancement of programmes continued in the Department in 2011. The Community Service Order Programme was granted a new vision and renamed the Community Payback Programme to encompass the wider use of community service projects. DCR’s group work was restarted in the prison and formal LSCMI assessments were incorporated as part of clientele operations. In addition, the Alternative Sentencing Order (ASL), revised in 2008, was enforced in part on May 02, 2011. The Department began exploring new programme options to enable wider exposure of clientele, including those on ASL orders, to group intervention. Again the organizational structure was changed to incorporate an expansion of services and a Programmes Team was established in 2012. The staff of the Department of Community Rehabilitation has expanded to approximately 30 and includes three (3) Probation Officer Graduate posts which have given more access to local university graduates.
The Department remains committed to the provision of rehabilitative services that provide opportunities for life changing benefits through community based supervision and intervention. Our ultimate aim is reducing reoffending and contributing to public safety.
Last Updated 2013-04-04