Persons who committed a crime, and served time in prison can still go on to lead productive, meaningful lives and contribute significantly to society.
Public Relations Officer at HMP Dodds, Ryan Phillips, said yesterday that once inmates had successfully completed the rehabilitation programme and were eventually re-integrated into society, there was no reason why they could not be an asset to the community.
“There are former inmates who we know for sure have gone on to the University of the West Indies, going after degrees in art, management and so on. There are even persons who have gone on to start their own business in terms of mechanics, welding and baking.
“Recently, there would have been some individuals who got an early release. It is important to know that their early release was not just because a decision was made to pardon them, but they had to satisfy the Prison Board that they took part in the rehabilitation programme. It is as a result of participating in this programme that led to them being released,” Phillips said.
He also explained that as PR Officer he often made trips to various schools across the island so children could have a better understanding of the restrictions associated with prison life.
“I do tours every week and I am constantly bombarded by inmates who want the opportunity to speak to the children. They want the chance to share their experiences because they understand the challenges that children face out there … Approximately 50 per cent of the inmate population want to share their testimony. If you visit those secondary schools, believe me, you will hear the reviews because it helps the individual; it helps the children to understand life before prison, during prison and after prison. That is their way of also getting the message out,” Phillips stated. (BGIS)