Long-serving prison officers honoured

| 26/04/2016
CNS Local Life

Prison officers Claira Range and Richard Barton

(CNS): Two senior prison officers who have been with HM Cayman Islands Prison Service since 1981 will be honoured during the 35th anniversary celebrations being held from 24-30 April. Acting deputy director – rehabilitation Richard Barton and deputy director Claira Range, who is in charge of HMP Fairbanks, are the Prison Service’s longest-serving employees and have been co-workers since HMP Northward opened in 1981.

The two will take part in a special presentation at a reception on Friday, 29 April, as part of a series of events during the Cayman Islands’ first-ever formal Corrections Week.

A government press release describes them as a popular pair, with Barton a “father figure” at HMP Northward, while both inmates and prison officers refer to Range as Mama Claira.

Both hail from Jamaica but moved to the Cayman Islands prior to joining the Prison Service, where they received training from UK officers on island to set up the new prison.

While at one time the emphasis was on ensuring that prisoners did not escape, the approach is now on education and rehabilitation.

“There are so many programmes compared to back in the day,” said Barton. “Now everyone has a ‘sentence plan’ from the day they arrive to the day their sentence ends.”

And it’s this focus on rehabilitation that sees Barton respected by inmates and fellow officers alike.

“We cannot condemn people who come to prison,” he said. “It is not my job to criticise or judge – it is my job to help them go back out better people. I don’t refer to them as prisoners, I call them ‘my students’.”

After 35 years in the service, Barton says it will soon be time to hand his role to a younger officer, but he has not regretted one minute of his career at the prison.

Although Range initially thought she would only stay a year, she has dedicated her life to the Prison Service.

“I stayed in the Prison Service as I realised that people really need people, whether you are a prisoner or an officer,” she said. “My happiest moments are to see the prisoners do well and stay out of prison. I also love to see staff members take pride in doing their jobs and going that extra mile, too.

“I will not leave work if I can stay and help someone sort out a problem. I think I am a good listener and also a compassionate person.”

Corrections Week is being held to mark the prison service’s 35th anniversary, and is set to become an annual event.

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