Exit Strategy For Returning Nationals
Successfully Re-Integrating Ex-Offenders into Society
The incarcerated Caribbean community, is seeking the public's' assistance in creating an "Exit Strategy" for returning residents (deportees), by changing the stigma associated to them. Throughout the various Caribbean countries, it is perceived that returning nationals are the impetus for the increase in crime. Upon taking a closer look, it becomes apparent that these statistics are misleading.
It is understood that the influx of deported ex-offenders from America and Europe being sent back into the Caribbean society, does put a strain on said community, as well as the fact that a percentage of those deportees, do resort to committing more crimes. Most due to the lack of resources available to them.
The NYS Department of Corrections found that prisoners that served 10 years or more, have the lowest recidivistic rate. Many of these returning nationals plan to build a positive and productive life upon their release with the skills and education they received while incarcerated. During their incarceration, they were given the opportunity to receive a higher education, take rehabilitative programs and gain employable skills through vocational training such as, Electricians, Custodial workers, Small Engine Mechanics, HIV/AIDS educators and Investment skills.
At present, NYS allows a prisoner with a final order of deportation to receive "Conditional Parole for Deportation Only (CPDO). Once the individual completes his/her's minimum sentence and is denied parole, he/she can still be granted a CPDO. Despite this fact, what is seemingly becoming a pattern is that the Parole Board has not been granting very many offenders parole, or CPDO to most deportable or life-serving offenders. The reasoning behind these denials, is ambiguous and disingenuous. As a result, a 15 to life sentence, amounts to 30 or 40 years of being incarcerated. The successful reintegration of an offender, relies heavily on a solid support system, valuable resources, aspirations, physical and mental health.
Intellectual articles like the one from Dr. Basil Wilson from Monroe College, and Dr. Waldaba Stewart from Medgar Evers College, that were referenced in "A Caribbean Nightmare" by Tony Best of CaribNews, are misguided. These articles play on people's fear, and only highlight the few returning national that unfortunately became a part of the crime static. Many of the returning offenders have been able to successfully reintegrate themselves into the community, and in turn have gone on to become successful and productive members of society and their community. Despite the fact that some of these offenders has life-serving sentences, they were able to reform their way of thinking as well as their lives. Although many offenders have been able to reform their lives, there are still many offenders who are struggling to have their voices heard and need the help of their community.
The reality is that every deportable life-serving felon will eventually be deported, however, the question is will they be an asset or a liability to society upon their return? To us an "Asset Deportee" is one who is educated, has employable skills and is mentally and physically able to work. This allows them the opportunity to become financially independent instead of a burden to society. A "Liability Deportee" is one who cannot work or contribute to his/her welfare. Prolonged parole denials, increases the deportee pool of liabilities, even though most life-serving deportable offenders can be deported while they are still "assets" through CPDO.
We are asking for your help! A great human being once said, "The ultimate resource of a nation is it's people. Unless this resource is employed for the benefit of the nation, the nation will languish poor in spirit and lacking in achievement."
We, the Caribbean community strongly believe that the following "3 Prong Reintegration Plan" will lessen the stigma, enigma and rigor of the reintegration process, and assist life-serving deportees and their respective countries:
- The returning national will write a "Deportation Action Plan", documenting his/her education, skills and goals. The action plan should also include where the individual will reside, as well as any family and friend support in the returning country. The returning national will be responsible for furnishing the Consulate General's office with his/her "Deportation Action Plan" at least six months before his/her's parole board appearance.
- The Consulate General will maintain a file or database of the nationals who contact them. The Consular will then send the national an assessment questionnaire for two purposes: (a.) It will further assess what added resources the returning national may need, such as mental health aid, jobs, housing etc. and (b.) The Consular will provide the returning the national with a recommendation letter addressed to the Parole board for Conditional Parole for Deportation Only(CPDO).
- If the national is released or granted CPDO, the Consulate office will prepare an information package on the returning national based on the questionnaire and deportation action plan. This information package will be forwarded to any governmental or NGO within the national's country who can further assist the national according to his/her specific needs. In those countries where a reintegration service does not exist, the Consulate General's office will petition the country's social service branch or ministry on behalf of the returning national for special assistance consideration.
The Caribbean community is serious about finding an "Exit Strategy" for returning nationals. We believe the receiving countries will benefit when the Consulate Office has viable information on returning nationals. Continuous parole denials does not benefit life serving offenders or their receiving countries. They need your help in securing CPDO or release from prison, while they are still productive. Please help us contribute to the upliftment of the Caribbean.