Retired Prisons Commissioner Gerard Wilson did a stage dive into the crowd of his close family and friends as he celebrated not one, but two milestones: turning 60-years old and retiring from the Prisons Service as Prisons Commissioner.
Speaking with IzzSo news this morning, Wilson said that although he has no immediate plans, his work as the Chairman of the Board of Directors for Vision on a Mission will keep him busy. He said, “There’s a halfway house in Sangre Grande called “Hope House” which will more or less be run by an organization from America. One woman, Topica Sam, wants to spearhead a programme at the house”.
He said Sam recently met with US President Donald Trump as she wants to change the legislation that governs the penal institution in America. He said, “Sam is an ex-inmate who has a follow-up programme for women leaving prison, and she wants to implement that programme here. The house is 90% complete, and it is for female inmates leaving prison or persons who were abused and looking for somewhere to stay while they catch themselves.”
He added that he is also working with the Ministry of Sport on a new programmme called “Empower” which will have Masters, like Wilson, and Ambassadors sharing their experiences with young people in the country. He also delivered the feature address at the recently held Express Individual of the Year Award ceremony.
Other than that, he said, “(I’m) just taking it easy, just enjoying life, trying to do as much as I can for mankind. From time to time people will call asking for assistance, so I’m just trying to keep busy and do things.”
When asked what advice he would give to incoming Acting Prisons Commissioner Dennis Pulchan, he said that the prisons service needs an upgraded infrastructure, more vehicles, and more staff.
He said, “Up to this morning, we had a discussion. I think we need to work on infrastructure because we need an environment for rehabilitation and restoration. What will be good for his legacy is if we could change from prisons officer to corrections officer. We do more than feed and house, we have programmes for the inmates.”
He said Jamaica has already made the switch as they have corrections officers in their prison system.
He said, “I’ve said publicly; we have persons inside but if we don’t fix them 95% will return to society and they will move into neighbourhoods without being fully rehabilitated. The main thing is to try to change their (inmates’) perspective on life and impact crime. Public safety has always been our number one concern.”
On Monday, Wilson officially retired from the Prisons service after 36 years. He began acting as Prisons Commissioner in November 2017, and received his confirmation as Prisons Commissioner in August 2019.
The Prisons service produced a video for the outgoing Commissioner. Take a look at the video below.