Caymanian is new rehab dept deputy

| 30/09/2019
Cayman News Service
Melissa Rivas

(CNS Local Life): Melissa Rivas’ position as deputy director for the Department of Community Rehabilitation (DCR) has been made permanent after acting in the position for the last two years. The Ministry of Home Affairs which oversees the department said in a release that its role is to work with adult offenders to help them understand the impact their crime has on the victim and the broader public in order to encourage their reintegration into the community and, ultimately, to reduce reoffending behaviour. 

Rivas, whose promotion officially started on 16 September, was a senior probation officer from February 2012 until working as deputy director in the DCR in September 2017. She began working with DCR shortly after graduating from Florida Metropolitan University with a Master’s of Science in Criminal Justice in 2007, the ministry said.

Rivas decided on a career in rehabilitation after working with victims of crime at Hubbard House, a domestic violence victim safe shelter in Florida.

“I wanted to contribute to victim and public safety by working right at the source in offender management services to support offenders in making positive behavioural changes and reducing their risk of reoffending,” she explained.

When she began her career at DCR, Rivas used this experience and became the first probation officer at the department to specialise in domestic violence rehabilitation. She also established the first Intensive Supervision Team, which focuses on providing an enhanced level of community supervision for high risk offenders.

Probation officers use a recently implemented evidence-based supervision strategy called ChAngeS (Change Agent Supervision) to address the underlying attitudes that support criminal or antisocial behaviours. For Rivas, being an agent of change is the most rewarding aspect of her role.

“Seeing our clients make positive changes for themselves is incredibly rewarding. When you listen to our staff talk about how they support their clients in making these changes, it’s very energising. There’s so much pride and commitment for making a difference here,” she said.

Rivas believes that maintaining a culture of encouragement and appreciation of diversity, collaboration and ongoing professional development enables the DCR to deliver excellence in service.

DCR Director Lisa Malice said, “I extend my congratulations to my very deserving colleague, Ms Rivas. She has proven herself to be an extremely passionate advocate for positive change within our community and a dedicated team member at DCR. We are very fortunate to have someone so determined to make a difference appointed to the role of deputy director.”

Rivas said she was “humbled by the support and confidence shown in me” by the ministry and the director. “I am very proud to serve DCR in this capacity as we continue to be a leading organisation in the field of offender management and work towards delivering a world class service,” she added.

Home Affairs Chief Officer Dr Dax Basdeo said, “We are very pleased to have someone of Ms Rivas’ calibre progress through the ranks to join the senior management team at DCR. The department plays a vitally important role in breaking the cycle of reoffending, which can be very challenging at times.”

He continued, “Ms Rivas has shown great passion and drive to make a positive impact in our community. The ministry looks forward to continuing to support her as she takes on her new role.”


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