Philipsburg, Sint Maarten — On Wednesday, March 2nd, the Minister of Justice, Ms. Anna E. Richardson held an introductory meeting with trainers of the prison training institute of the Dutch Custodial Institutions Agency (Dienst Justitiele Inrichtingen, hereafter DJI).
Upon the request of Minister Richardson, the DJI trainers were invited to Sint Maarten, to familiarize themselves with the Point Blanche prison and to assess what training curriculum needs to be established for the prison personnel. Also, in attendance at the meeting was the prison’s HR-advisor, Mr. Richard Zijlstra who has been posted at the prison since December 2021 upon the request of the Minister of Justice from the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations, to assist in HR matters at the prison.
Prior to 10-10-10, training for all justice executive workers was administered in Curacao until the dissolution of the Netherlands Antilles in 2010. After 2010, training for the prison guards was provided by the prison and the Justice Academy. After the Justice Academy was severely damaged by hurricane Irma and the building could no longer be used to give classes, no further structural training courses were put in place for current and new prison officers.
In 2018 the Minister of Justice in office at the time, enlisted the help of the Dutch government to improve Sint Maarten’s detention system. A team of professionals from the Dutch Custodial Institutions Agency travelled to Sint Maarten to offer their expertise and carried out an in-depth study on the country’s detention system. This team produced a Detention Plan of Action on how to address the many challenges of the country’s prison system. The DJI team consisted of six persons with many years of experience in prison and forensic care. They delivered the following report: “A Safe Society: building a responsible and sustainable detention system on Sint Maarten (2018-2023),
One of the recommendations in the detention plan focuses on training programs for prison personnel. This item has also been taken up in the country package under measure H.20 as an urgent point of improvement.
Discussions with the DJI prison training institute on training programs for Sint Maarten prison personnel were started last year and have yielded positive results. The DJI prison training institute has proposed to provide similar training opportunities for prison personnel in Sint Maarten as is provided in the Netherlands. The DJI prison training institute would design a tailor-made training for the prison personnel on Sint Maarten, which, once completed, will certify the guards.
Minister Richardson recognizes that prison work is complex and requires a variety of skills. Well-trained prison personnel is important so that prison staff are equipped with the knowledge, skills and attitude to perform their duties well and with respect for the rights and dignity of inmates. For this reason, it is of great importance that prison officers, current and new, are up to date with their knowledge and skills and should be provided the opportunity to continuously develop and enhance through further training.
The training provided by the DJI prison training institute covers topics such as self-defense, integrity, safety and security of staff and inmates, physical training, relevant legal regulations, positive communication and more. The training usually consists of minimum 8 and maximum 12 persons per group and takes about 6 weeks to complete.
Once the training course is finalized and approved, the Minister of Justice, the prison director and his team look forward to kicking off the first training course within the coming few months.