Wayne Perinchief *File photo
Wayne Perinchief *File photo
Some of Bermuda’s former guesthouses could be converted into hostels for criminals on parole.

Wayne Perinchief, MP for Pembroke Central and new Parole Board chairman, says supervised accommodation is needed to stop the island’s “new breed of criminal” from re-offending.

Revolving door

He believes Westgate will continue to have a revolving door unless habitual offenders are helped to change their ways.

Mr. Perinchief is to make it his priority to provide “stability in the lives of parolees”. He said there was more need than ever before, as 40 to 60 per cent of Bermuda’s criminals re-offend.

The island needed “two or three” safe homes. “These people need some place to stay, they need a home environment that is a stable residence,” said Mr. Perinchief.

“If not, they will soon fall back into the same problems that they had before they went in.

“These hostels will help them to get their life organized, to help them get back on their feet.

“It would be a clean, dry and safe room for them to stay, a bed they can call their own.

“They would undergo counselling, learn the right work ethic and all about money management. All the components would come together.”

Unused buildings, such as former guesthouses, could be leased and converted.

The beds would become available to all parolees, who are allowed to serve part of their sentencing under supervision in the community rather than prison.

The hostels would be run in a similar way to the YMCA network in the U.S.

Parolees would stay for at least a year “to get stabilised”.

The hostels would operate in addition to the transitional house where up to 12 men stay after being released from Westgate.

Mr. Perinchief understands that the “Budget is not in our favour” but suggests using money earmarked for drug rehabilitation programmes.

A former police assistant commissioner, he said: “We keep hearing the same story. We have such a high rate of return to our prisons.

“It’s because many come out of prisons and don’t have a structured home to go to.

“Many of them have lived a totally institutionalized life, so they don’t know how to operate without supervision and structure.

“They may come out with all good intentions, but it’s going to amount to nothing without somewhere to live.

“They will quickly fall back into their old ways, go through the revolving doors and go straight back in (to prison).”

Dangerous

Mr. Perinchief said the island’s criminals were “getting more sophisticated and more dangerous”, as they were now “mobile, with international links and access to guns”.

He added: “We now have this territorial situation as everything is linked to gang culture.

“It’s a dangerous situation as some young men can’t even go into certain parishes.

“Our gang culture is a very profound and disruptive situation.

“We have to act or we will keep losing our young.”

The proposal to open supervised hostels will be discussed at the next parole board meeting.

Mr. Perinchief said: “I’m surprised it’s taken this long as a country to put this in place.

“It’s been brought up before, but has always fallen by the wayside.

“It now has to be seen as a necessity.”