As concern mounts among authorities and the wider society over the shocking level of gun crime here, a local social services body has received the green light to introduce a major rehabilitative project at HMP Dodds, St Philip which is designed to significantly slash the high rate of recidivism.
The programme, known as the Prisoner’s Journey, will shortly be launched by Prison Fellowship Barbados with backing from the Prison Fellowship International. The Prisoner’s Journey traces the time spent in jail and the life-changing influence of caring mentors which continues on release.
Mark Hardy, the newly-appointed Regional Director for the Caribbean who is based at the global headquarters in the US, told Barbados TODAY during a luncheon this afternoon for members of the board and volunteers of the local prison fellowship at its Carrington Village main offices, that Superintendent of Prisons Lt Col John Nurse is “over the moon” regarding the venture.
“We had a meeting today with the Superintendent of Prisons John Nurse and he is turned onto the programme. The gates will soon be opened and the Prisoner’s Journey will begin in the prison very soon,” Hardy promised.
The Regional Director is therefore urging the local fellowship to conduct as many training sessions as possible and prepare as many inmates for reintegration into society.
“The reason I say that is because I am convinced that the Prisoner’s Journey works. As a rehabilitation tool, it works. The more inmates you get involved in the programme… the better.”
The current recidivism rate at the prison is 22 per cent; and we believe that the programme will help to reduce this. Wherever it is purposefully and adequately implemented it has that effect…and I am sure that we will see similar achievement here in Barbados,” Hardy said.
He said that further details of this venture would soon be revealed by founder of Prison Fellowship Barbados Thomas Watts.
Stating that other programmes are in the pipeline, he insisted that this one has to work first before introducing another. Hardy also revealed that the international fellowship would be focusing greater attention on Barbados in the future and the development of its local operations.
He announced that Barbados is to become the hub for disbursing global funding to national organisations across the region which cater specifically to the welfare of former prison inmates and the families of those who are behind bars.
Hardy, who made Barbados his first official tour outside of the US since taking up office in January, also promised that the 45-year-old local Prison Fellowship would now benefit from major technical and financial assistance to build capacity and make it more viable and effective.
A national of Jamaica, Hardy said that during an international conference in May, the Chief Operating Officer of the global prison fellowship David Van Patten would be meeting with the various leaders where an ongoing programme of assistance for Barbados and the rest of the region is scheduled to be formalised.
“It would not be a total one-off thing; but certainly it will be the beginning of a number of initiatives, geared towards helping to build and raise…and once implemented, I am sure the next time a programme needs to be introduced, Barbados would not get sidelined and look somewhere else; but Barbados will be the seat of the operation,” he assured.
Likening Barbados to the template for many other prison fellowships across the Caribbean, he said the local ministry would therefore be chosen to channel resources from the international body to its neighbours.
“From Prison Fellowship International’s perspective, we want to help the leadership primarily to do an effective job. We focused on capacity building. I want to help as your regional director because I am the point person between Prison Fellowship International and the national ministries.
“I want to help to channel as much resources as is possible between Prison Fellowship and the national ministries into developing the capacity of the leadership of the region,” he added.
He told Barbados TODAY that the agenda for next month’s talks with the Chief Operating Officer would be geared towards raising the national profile and social media footprint of the Barbados fellowship.
“We have a wonderful programme organised, which would not be a talk shop, but we are going to be equipping you to do a better job and sharing with you what is now the new paradigm in fundraising.