Christmas means LOVE for all

Christmas is about joy, being together, having fun, eating and drinking excessively, and probably just being lazy. However, it’s not just about loving one’s family and friends and enjoying a nice meal with them. I always try to remind myself that there are many people who are not so privileged, who are not basking in “good vibes,” and who are wondering what the future (or even the present moment) will bring them. So I found this release from Stand Up for Jamaica (SUFJ) very touching. It is very easy to forget about those incarcerated in our prisons: out of sight, out of mind?

Special “big ups” to Sandals Foundation, Lasco Foundation and the University of the Commonwealth Caribbean (UCC) for supporting the dedicated people at SUFJ in this effort. Nuff love to all!

Christmas trees at the ROK Hotel, downtown Kingston. (My photo)

Christmas means love for all

This Christmas is one that will see prisoners getting a gift of hope that others on the outside still care. Living far from their families and children Christmas is difficult, painful, and lonely. Despite their offences, marginalization of prisoners does not help with rehabilitation. 

Stand Up Jamaica has partnered with Sandals Foundation and Lasco Foundation to provide care packages and treats for inmates at Tower Street General Penitentiary and at St Catherine Penitentiary.

We have always partnered with the Department of Correctional Services to organize events, but due to the pandemic we were unable to celebrate the special day. Our music laboratory has been working hard to offer a small show with live band, performances and presentations delivered by special guests such as Professor Levy and members of the Board of Visitors as well as incarcerated people. 

We believe it is important to remind Jamaica that prisoners are still humans, and they deserve love and attention. It plays a pivotal role in the rehabilitation process that is important in helping them to use serving time to achieve instruments such as education and professional skills for them to be able to function in society when they are released. 

Over the years we have provided opportunities for inmates and officers to pursue CXC subjects along with Degree programs with the help of our partners, and it has been a success with several subjects being achieved. This is a clear indication that there are inmates who are willing to take a second chance at life once they are given the opportunity. For 2 years we have inmates who are students under University of the Commonwealth Caribbean (UCC). The first cohort graduated with honours and 3 more cohorts have successfully started their masters. We thank the UCC for its commitment in paying tuition fees and in sharing an unusual vision of solidarity towards those considered as past redemption. UCC has been brave and innovative in its action aimed to give incarcerated people a second chance and the possibility to go back to society as well educated, productive people. 

We are glad to be pioneers in changing the lives of persons who have been shunned by society and the authorities. We believe everyone has a right, everyone can be better versions of themselves and without a proper system being implemented to rehabilitate those who find themselves trapped on the wrong side of the law, we will continue to face the crime problem we have today. We are glad to have found along the way several partners to work with, and with whom to promote the idea to fight violence and crime through inclusion and solidarity.

The Tower Street Correctional Centre in downtown Kingston was built in 1846. (Photo: Gleaner)

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