Prison providing more education for young men than schools, judge says
Justice Bernard Turner said yesterday that it appears that the Bahamas Department of Correctional Services (BDOCS) is providing more vocational and educational training for young men in The Bahamas than the school system.
Turner was speaking to the Ministry of National Security’s Advisory Council on Crime.
He was asked whether teens accused and/or convicted of murder are still afforded the right to an education.
“For the life of me I can’t understand why our young people don’t take advantage of educational opportunities freely provided when you are school-aged,” Turner responded.
“They wait to get to prison to recognize that, ‘Well, you know, I need to learn a trade or I need other educational training or certifications.’
“They ask the court, ‘Can I take advantage of the vocational and other opportunities at BDOCS?’
“When having read the probation report, this person attended school three times in an entire term.
“That’s what you see almost invariably, unfortunately, in these probation reports, that these young men almost invariably are put out of school for some problems with the fact that they hardly ever attended school. Some of them had a point something grade point average.
“Some of them have no form of certification whatsoever, and…you see in some of the defendants, unfortunately, young men again, that they manage to navigate through an educational system and come out…without being able to read or to write.
“We find that the prison, the Bahamas Department of Correctional Services, is probably providing more vocational and educational instruction to young men than the school system is.
“And that’s a societal issue which has to be seriously considered.”
A University of The Bahamas study, released earlier this year, revealed that 75.6 percent of imprisoned violent crime offenders interviewed in 2016 said they had not completed high school.
While Turner said that support programs and a quality education system are important, he believes that individuals are responsible for ensuring they are educated.
“Other factors come into play in that, for example, if the child is hungry the child may not be able to learn, so [we need] school lunch programs,” he said.
“All of those things need to be in place.
“But when all of those things are in place, at some point, it becomes the individual’s decision and responsibility of that young person as to whether they are going to receive that [education].”
Education: Virginia in Charlottesville, BA in Foreign Affairs and Spanish