Monday 25 March, 2019

Food for the Poor Jamaica enabled the release of 26 prisoners in 2018

Food For The Poor-Jamaica Prison Ministry Administrator, Sandra Ramsey (left) and Housing Manager, Lorenzo Stanton give a final word of advice to an inmate of the St. Catherine Adult Correctional Centre, whose outstanding fine was paid by the charity in December 2018, thus securing his release from the penal institution.

Food For The Poor-Jamaica Prison Ministry Administrator, Sandra Ramsey (left) and Housing Manager, Lorenzo Stanton give a final word of advice to an inmate of the St. Catherine Adult Correctional Centre, whose outstanding fine was paid by the charity in December 2018, thus securing his release from the penal institution.

Food For The Poor’s prison releases are occasions filled with tears, hugs and laughter. The Prison Ministry is a less well-known aspect of Food For The Poor-Jamaica’s work with the poor and disadvantaged.

Nevertheless, it is very close to the heart of the charity’s mission of continually renewing its relationship with and service to the poor through teaching, encouragement and prayer.

Food For The Poor pays the fines of inmates serving sentences for minor offences in Jamaica twice per year – at Easter and Christmas. These prisoners were unable to pay their fines and received custodial sentences for nonviolent offences such as traffic law violations.

Between December 11 and 13, 2018, Food For The Poor released 17 inmates, who were able to spend the Christmas season with their families. Last Easter, nine inmates were freed under this initiative, bringing the total to 26 for the year. Since 2016, 91 inmates have been released.

Prison Ministry Administrator at Food For The Poor-Jamaica, Sandra Ramsey, said she believes that everyone deserves a chance to renew his or her life.

“At Food For The Poor, we believe in lifting people up,” Ramsey said.

She stressed that the prison releases are always joyful occasions, especially when inmates are reunited with their loved ones at holiday time. Ramsey also paid tribute to generous donors for enabling Food For The Poor to carry out this activity twice a year.          

“We are always excited when this happens,” said Ramsey. “When you see the reactions of the inmates when they are told they will be released, they are overwhelmed!”

Food For The Poor also gives the inmates funds for transportation as well as a food package. Before they go home, they are treated to refreshments for all in the prison chapel.

In addition to the regular releases, more than 7,000 former inmates have benefited from the Prison Ministry’s Fresh Start programme, which Ramsey describes as very rewarding.

Since 2003, Food For The Poor-Jamaica has provided the means for those who have served their prison terms to resume their lives. The Prison Ministry provides tools and equipment such as welding, carpentry, mechanics and agricultural materials that enable the former inmates to become financially independent.

“It is something for them to look forward to after they are released,” said Ramsey.

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