The Ministry of Financial Services and Home Affairs is pleased to announce the appointment of Ms Melissa Rivas as the Deputy Director for the Department of Community Rehabilitation (DCR).
Ms Rivas, a Caymanian, has served as the Acting Deputy Director since September 2017 and prior to that as a Senior Probation Officer since February 2012.
The role of DCR is to work with adult offenders to help them understand the impact their crime has on the victim and the broader public, to encourage their reintegration into the community and ultimately, to reduce reoffending behaviour.
Ms Rivas began working with DCR shortly after graduating from Florida Metropolitan University with a Master’s of Science in Criminal Justice in 2007.
It was her experience working with victims of crime at Hubbard House, a domestic violence victim safe shelter in Florida, that drew Ms Rivas to pursue a career in rehabilitation.
“I wanted to contribute to victim and public safety by working right at the source in offender management services to support offenders in making positive behavioural changes and reducing their risk of reoffending,” she explained.
When she began her career at DCR, Ms Rivas used this experience and became the first Probation Officer at the department to specialise in domestic violence rehabilitation.
During her time at DCR, Ms Rivas established the first Intensive Supervision Team. The team focuses on providing an enhanced level of community supervision for high risk offenders. Probation Officers use a recently implemented evidence based supervision strategy called ChAngeS (Change Agent Supervision) to address the underlying attitudes that support criminal or antisocial behaviours. For Ms Rivas, being an agent of change is the most rewarding aspect of her role.
“Seeing our clients make positive changes for themselves is incredibly rewarding. When you listen to our staff talk about how they support their clients in making these changes, it’s very energising. There’s so much pride and commitment for making a difference here,” she continued.
Ms Rivas believes it is by maintaining an organisational culture of encouragement and appreciation of diversity, collaboration and ongoing professional development that DCR is able to deliver excellence in service.
The Director of DCR, Mrs Lisa Malice, said of Ms Rivas’ appointment, “I extend my congratulations to my very deserving colleague, Ms Rivas. She has proven herself to be an extremely passionate advocate for positive change within our community and a dedicated team member at DCR. We are very fortunate to have someone so determined to make a difference appointed to the role of Deputy Director.”
“I am humbled by the support and confidence shown in me by the Ministry and DCR Director, Mrs. Malice. I am very proud to serve DCR in this capacity as we continue to be a leading organisation in the field of offender management and work towards delivering a world class service,” Ms Rivas said in relation to her promotion.
In commenting on Ms Rivas’ appointment, the Chief Officer for the Ministry of Home Affairs, Dr. Dax Basdeo, JP said, “We are very pleased to have someone of Ms Rivas’ calibre progress through the ranks to join the senior management team at DCR. The department plays a vitally important role in breaking the cycle of reoffending, which can be very challenging at times.”
He continued, “Ms Rivas has shown great passion and drive to make a positive impact in our community. The Ministry looks forward to continuing to support her as she takes on her new role.”
Ms Rivas started her new role on 16th September 2019.