State Minister for National Security, Senator Arthur Williams, has called for partnerships among stakeholders in the corrective service to ensure that the inmate rehabilitation programme does not suffer as a result of macroeconomic imperatives.
Noting the “serious cuts” in this year’s budgetary allocations, Senator Williams warned that “all aspects of the correctional process are going to be affected”, and underscored the need to ensure that the rehabilitation programme is not derailed.
The State Minister was addressing the official handing over of a block-making machine to the Correctional Services Production Company (COSPROD) by Food for the Poor on Wednesday (April 22), at the Tower Street Adult Correctional Centre’s brickyard in Kingston. Manager of the charity’s Prison Ministry, Sandra Ramsey, made the presentation.
COSPROD is the company created to institute the Government’s rehabilitative programme for persons incarcerated in the country’s penal facilities. The programme aims to enhance capabilities in skills work and agriculture, and involves activities such as vegetable and livestock farming and block making.
State Minister in the Ministry of National Security, Senator Arthur Williams (centre), along with (from right), Acting Commissioner of Corrections, June Jarrett; Manager of Food for the Poor’s Prison Ministry Programme, Sandra Ramsey, and officer at the Tower Street Adult Correctional Centre, Corporal Billy Graham (left), look on as Chief Executive Officer of the Correctional Services Production Company (COSPROD), Allan Walker (second left), explains aspects of the block making process, at the facility’s brickyard, in downtown Kingston, during a handing over ceremony for a block making machine, donated by the philanthropic organization, on Wednesday, April 23. The brickyard is operated by COSPROD.
Senator Williams noted that COSPROD is one of the most progressive ideas to be associated with the correctional services in Jamaica and expressed appreciation on behalf of the Government, “to all those who have been involved, over the years, in leading COSPROD and directing it into a company that is truly rehabilitating through production”. He challenged the current board to take the entity to “even greater heights”.
In the meantime, he commended Food for the Poor for the donation of the block making machine, noting that it will enhance production at the brickyard and provide a skill for “those who are incarcerated and who, one day, will go out into the world”.
He noted that Food for the Poor’s assistance to the corrective system has extended to the paying of fines to secure the release of persons, who commit minor offences. “It is a good humanitarian gesture (and) it also relieves the pressure on the correctional institutions because… to keep one inmate in an institution is costing the taxpayers of this country some $700,000 per year. So, when Food for the Poor takes up that responsibility, it is also assisting in keeping the institutions more manageable and better able to service those who have to remain for the rest of their sentences,” he pointed out.
The machine, which was commissioned into service in February, has significantly enhanced production at the brickyard, with output moving from 2,500 to 6,000 blocks per month.