Health and Social Development Minister Vincent Wheatley congratulates the winning team. (Photo: GIS)

A team of female inmates recently won $500 by edging out their male counterparts in the first-ever debate held at His Majesty’s Prison, according to government.

During the contest, which was organised by the prison and the New Life Baptist Church, the two teams argued over the moot, “Why is the rate of reoffending so high and what can the prison do to reduce the numbers?”

The prize money — which also included $250 for the male team — will be split between team members when they are released, according to the government.

HMP now plans to hold the debate annually.

Health and Social Development Minister Vincent Wheatley said such events underscore the prison’s commitment to listening to inmates and rehabilitating them.

“We must invest in rehabilitative measures within our prison services, providing inmates with the tools and support needed for successful reintegration into society, ensuring that the path to redemption is paved with genuine opportunities for change and growth,” he said.

HMP strategy

Prison Superintendent Jay Kendall emphasised HMP’s commitment to ensuring that rehabilitation efforts work toward a long-term goal.

“Events such as this are really important for inmates to have their voice heard in terms of what they think the reasons are why people reoffend and what some of the solutions may be,” Mr. Kendall said. “My pledge today is that … some of the suggestions and ideas [aired in the debate] will be included in my three-year strategic plan as we look to develop His Majesty’s Virgin Islands Prison Service.”

Cane Garden Bay Baptist Church Pastor Dr. Michael Turnbull, who moderated the event, also pledged that his church would donate five laptops for HMP’s rehabilitation efforts.