The Department of Correctional Services (DCS) is moving to expand the types of services it offers, under its Inmates Work Programme, to include the skills of both men and women.
At a function held Friday (March 27), recognising the inmates for giving a facelift to the National Stadium in time for this week’s Boys and Girls Track and Field Championships, Minister of State in the Ministry of National Security, Senator Arthur Williams, explained that many inmates possess specialised skills that could be utilised by the programme.
“We want to change the thinking of this programme as being mere bushing and cleaning. In the institutions, we have every skill that you can want. We have painters, masons, plumbers, electricians, grille-work men. You name it, it’s there,” he told guests at the function held at the National Stadium.
Senator Williams said the Department of Correctional Services wants to use these skills positively to enhance public institutions, especially in light of the current economic downturn.
Commissioner of Corrections, June Spence-Jarrett, said the department has 10 projects planned up to July. Among the institutions to receive attention, are the Trelawny Multi-purpose Stadium and the Bellevue Hospital in Kingston.
Mrs. Spence-Jarrett also disclosed that women will be included in the programme this year.
“We are going to be taking on the infirmary, doing softer skills, combing (hair), bathing the inmates at the infirmary, teaching them a skill,” she said. About 40 inmates are part of the Programme this year.
Senator Williams explained that the work done at the National Stadium under the programme is part of the thrust, this year, to focus on important national institutions.
Inmates involved in the Department of Correctional Services’ Inmates Work Programme cut the bushes at the National Stadium, on Friday(March 27), under the supervision of correctional officers.
Chairman of Independence Park Limited, which manages the National Stadium, Mike Fennel, thanked the department for including the stadium in its roster this year.
“We had this need of how to clean up the stadium, and we recognised that the Correctional Services also had a programme and a need for outreach services for their inmates, and we thought this was a wonderful opportunity to converge those two needs,” he stated.
Although the bushing of the stadium was done in time for the Boys’ and Girls’ Championships, Independence Park Limited said that routine maintenance will continue after the event.
Meanwhile, the inmates also shared the positive impact participation in the programme has had on their lives. One inmate, Lukel Young, disclosed that he uses the money he earns to support his children.
“We will always be there to do the work as long as we’re in the institutions, and when we leave,” he added.
This year’s phase of the Inmates Work Programme began last week with a two-day clean up in Portmore Pines.
The programme began in 2007, as one of the major undertakings of the National Security Ministry since the change of administration. It engages moderate to low risk inmates from adult correctional institutions, in the clean-up and beautification of public places.
The participants are carefully screened and selected. The programme prepares them for the world of work, once they are released from prison, and they also earn a stipend for their efforts.