Former prisoners are to live together in a shared house in a bid to try to break the cycle of re-offending.

Up to 12 men with nowhere else to go will move into a transitional home as soon as they are released from Westgate.

It is hoped that providing "stability in their lives" will reduce crime in our communities.

The men will have to pay a "minimal monthly rent" to live in the transitional home, which is in the central parishes. The exact location cannot be revealed for safety reasons.

No supervision occupants will have the freedom to live in the government-subsidised house without any supervision, for a maximum of six months.

The initiative promotes independent living as the last part of their journey to be reintegrated back into the community.

Inmates will only qualify for a place if they have behaved well at Westgate, completed all prison programmes and lined up jobs. There will also be a "shopping list" of conditions for them to abide by.

Commissioner of Corrections Lt. Col. Edward Lamb said: "We are providing a place for inmates to live as for whatever reason many of them have no fixed abode.

"If they have nowhere to stay, they tend to end up on the streets and we find they return back to the same cycle that got them incarcerated in the first place.

"This is a preventative measure so that they don't return to a life of crime and end up back in Westgate."

The transitional house is a joint partnership between the Department of Corrections, Bermuda Housing Corporation and Court Services. Men will be taken directly from Westgate to the transitional home, with the first residents due to move in before the end of the month.

Yvette Brown, a corrections department social worker, said: "Housing is a major issue for us.

"Inmates are nervous about being released as they have nowhere to go.

"They want a new start and a new outlook on life but they may have burned bridges with their families or may not want to return to the same neighbourhoods as that is where they got into trouble.

"Even if inmates do find jobs they can't keep them up if they have no roof over their heads." The house has individual bedrooms, plus a communal kitchen, living room and several bathrooms. Each resident has to sign a contract agreeing to abide by the house's strict rules and regulations.

This includes following whatever case plan they are given on release from prison.

The men will also have to pay their rent on time, remain employed, undergo random drug testing, abide by a night curfew and have no overnight guests.

There will be no live-in staff at the house but representatives from all three agencies will visit it regularly.

If the men break any of the rules or regulations, they will be asked to leave.

Lt. Col. Lamb said: "It will be a transitional house to enable them to work and save as they look for more stable accommodation. It will help them get back on solid ground and find their footing.

"The residents are all expected to secure more permanent accommodation within six months.

"The men are very relieved that this option is there for them. It's somewhere temporary they can call home and use as a launching pad for a more stable life."

Ms Brown said: "I'm not going to say all the men who go to this house will make it but the intention is there.

"This is a push in the right direction - it's what they need to be reintegrated into the community. Our aim is to help prisoners become independent, we are encouraging independent living.

"They will not be living off the state, this is a stop-gap for them - they will be working and paying their own way."

The transitional house is said to have been in the planning stages for about a year but is now a "done deal" between the three agencies.

There is said to have been an "influx of applications" from the 186 inmates currently at Westgate.

The demand for this facility is "currently exclusively from men" although if needed, a similar facility for women will be considered in the future.

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