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Rehabilitation programme welcomed by inmates

Rehabilitation  programme  welcomed by inmates

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A recently introduced rehabilitation programme at Her Majesty’s Prisons has been welcomed by the inmates, many of whom say they now have a reason to wake up on mornings.

Last Wednesday, superintendent of prisons Brenton Charles told SEARCHLIGHT that it is the mission of the prison system to rehabilitate offenders.{{more}}

“In order to do that we have to have programmes for them…we are thinking about health programmes, spiritual programmes, vocation programmes, because we want to do a complete work on the whole man.

“If we are to rehabilitate, it is necessary to have programmes such as these, so that we could help people to live meaningful, law-abiding lives.”

Among the programmes that have been introduced are courses in plumbing, architectural drawing, sewing, welding, visual arts, music, basket weaving, crocheting and agriculture.

According to the superintendent, since the introduction of the programme, he has seen a change in the attitude of the inmates.

“There is a significant amount of change in the general population; we don’t have as much trouble and as many fights and these sorts of things that we used to have. So, I think the programmes are really working to help alleviate those little issues that we confronted in the past,” he said.

Charles stated that many prisoners are repeat offenders, because they are unable to fit into society when they return there.

“We attribute that to not being able to fit comfortably in society; can’t find jobs; can’t earn income and that would drive people to crime. So, we are hoping that with the introduction of these programmes…the inmates would gravitate toward them, that they would understand the meaning of these programmes and why we are offering it to them.”

The superintendent stated that while some ex-convicts had trouble reintegrating into society because of stigma, there are some who have been able to find jobs and have lives after their prison life. He, however, said while some found jobs, others could not because they had no skills.

The programmes are being offered to all prisoners who pass through the prison system.

Education officer Clyde Fitzpatrick said the programme seeks to ensure that when prisoners leave the system, they have a skill, so that they could be employed in a meaningful way.

“Reintegration back into society is very important for these inmates, so we are partnering with the prisons to have classes…and more so in the skills area.”

Fitzpatrick noted the importance of awarding the prisoners a certificate at the end of the training.

“One of the things that we are hoping to get out of this programme is see if we can get them at least a level one certificate, because certification is also important. As you know, people pay attention to some level of certification.”

Art teacher Vonnie Roudette said it gives her a wonderful feeling to be able to impart her knowledge to the inmates.

Roudette, who has been teaching for many years, said that the visual arts is valuable in the rehabilitation process, not only to provide extra skills and vocation, but also in terms of therapeutic value.

“The creative arts are incredibly important in terms of enabling a person to express themselves and so we know that the inmates…value the opportunity to express and be able to channel their emotions in a positive way and make changes to the patterns of behaviour that they may have engaged in.”

Superintendent Charles has been applauded by both inmates and staff for the initiative.

“I greatly want to thank the Government, especially the superintendent himself, for bringing the idea for prisoners to have this opportunity,” Danneke Billingy, a prisoner, said.(CM)

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