(JAMAICA OBSERVER) – Five Jamaicans are among 113 non-violent inmates in the Caribbean and Latin American who were released this Easter courtesy of Food For The Poor (FFP).
The non-profit organisation said it paid the fines of the inmates in four countries during Holy Week, including the fines of two women at Fort Augusta Adult Correctional Centre.
The other three nonviolent Jamaican prisoners were released from the St Catherine Adult Correctional Centre, Richmond Farm Adult Correctional Centre and the Black River Police Station respectively, according to a release from the organisation.
Each was given words of encouragement, a hot meal, personal care items and money for transportation home, FFP said.
Meanwhile, in Honduras 19 inmates were released in time for Easter, while eight men and one woman in Guyana were freed on Monday.
The organisation also paid the fines of 70 men and 10 women from prisons in Arcahaie, Cabaret, Croix-des-Bouquets, Grande Rivière, Hinche, Fort Dimanche and Fort-Liberté, Haiti.
Food For The Poor’s Prison Ministry Programme, which started in 1998, has helped to free, train and reintroduce nonviolent prisoners back into their communities as productive citizens.
“Over the last 20 years, Food For The Poor has paid the fines of thousands of inmates with the compassionate generosity of our donors,” said Food For The Poor President/CEO Robin Mahfood.
“Many of these men and women are deserving of a second chance, because the crimes committed are considered petty. They spend months, even years, locked away because they cannot afford to pay a fine that would set them free. Some may wonder, is the prison ministry a waste of time? I say no! If only one life is transformed then it was well worth the effort, and that is what God has called us to do.”
In Jamaica alone, more than 7,000 former inmates also have benefited from the “Fresh Start Programme” that provides assistance with profitable jobs, such as welding, carpentry and farming.
Those newly released are given a source of income and are discouraged from repeating their offences.