JIS News

A total of 20 inmates, who have committed minor offences, but were incarcerated due to their inability to pay the required fines, will be released in time to spend Christmas with their families.
The release of the inmates, who are from institutions in Kingston, St. Catherine and St. Mary, is made possible by Food for the Poor (FFP), through its Prison Ministry Programme. The organization, this morning (Dec.10), paid over a sum of $237,132.84 to the Correctional Services Department, covering fines for the release of 10 inmates from the St. Catherine Adult Correctional Centre.
Two inmates will be released from Fort Agusta and three from Tamarind Farm in St. Catherine later today, while another three will be released from Richmond Park in St. Mary tomorrow (Dec.11). On Tuesday (Dec. 9) two prisoners were released from the Tower Street Correctional facility in Kingston.
Manager for the Prison Ministry Department of FFP, Sandra Ramsey, told JIS News that twice every year, at Easter and Christmas, fines are paid for inmates who have committed minor offences, so that they can be reunited with their families. She informed that the money comes from donors in the United States, who give specifically for that purpose.
“You know that when you get into trouble .and the judge says 10 days or $20, if you don’t have the money, then you go to prison. Those are the people that we call up the prisons and say ‘it’s Christmas, anybody on fines we will pay the fines and send them home,” she explained.
Those going home receive a small stipend, enough to pay their bus fare home and for a first meal. They are instructed to contact FFP by January, where they will be assisted to start an entrepreneurial enterprise, build a home “or whatever it is they need to get their life back together,” Mrs. Palmer told JIS News.
Emphasizing that “the fines we are paying are for people that do petty things,” she stated that “we don’t pay drug fines, no cocaine fines, or (drug) exporting fines. That kind of thing we don’t do.”
FFP International also facilitated the release of 40 inmates in Honduras today as part of International Human Rights Day.
More than 700 inmates have been released from Jamaican prisons through the Prison Ministry Programme since its launch in 2000. Earlier this year, in Easter, 18 inmates received their freedom through the programme.

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