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Talks are underway to improve the rehabilitation program at His Majesty’s Prison.
HMP has 12 programs encompassing spiritual, academic, and vocational areas.
Several educational programs have been ongoing, and this is an area where Prison boss Superintendent Lieutenant Colonel Trevor Pennyfeather is looking at improving further.
He revealed that they are presently in dialogue with officials from the Ministry of Education to offer additional literary classes and increase trade classes provided by the Harrison Centre or ABICE as we know it more commonly.
“We are awaiting word from them in respect to that because, yes, we have the tertiary, but there is a need for individuals who are struggling with literacy, and that is from being able not to read, right up to CXC’s and for that, we have engaged with the Ministry of Education and asked for their assistance in bringing in some teachers to assist us in that regard,” Pennyfeather told ABS T.V
He commended advocates like Paula Lee for introducing the tertiary classes in conjunction with the University of the West Indies (UWI), where several inmates have already benefitted.
About a dozen inmates from His Majesty’s Prison celebrated their graduation from the University of the West Indies Five Islands Campus Lifelong Learning Unit (LLU) last October.
The LLU provides professional development short course scholarships to individuals chosen by prison officials, and these courses are conducted online.
These inmates participate in the “Seeds of Hope” programme initiated in 2022 to help rehabilitate incarcerated individuals.
Omari Philip, a convicted murderer, emerged as the valedictorian in the prison programme, achieving an impressive average of 92.7 percent in courses like Entrepreneurship and Crisis and Risk Management.
Kenisha Wyte, a convicted robber, also stood out as a top student in the Marketing course.
Their fellow inmates achieved commendable averages of over 75 percent in their respective courses.
The GARD Center is another facility that works alongside the prison.
Those classes, according to Pennyfeather, will begin in March.
The agriculture, construction, and soap-making initiatives are also still on stream.
Programs like these, he mentioned, will help equip inmates with the right tools so that once they are released, they do not return to a life of crime.
Pennyfeather has been passionate about rehabilitating prisoners, especially the youth, since taking up the mantle last February.
Recent months have seen a significant spike in the number of criminal activities being perpetrated by young people, particularly boys, with some accused of what would be deemed petty crimes and others slapped with more serious charges, including murder.
“The whole intent whether religiously, vocationally or academically, is to be able to bring to the inmates an opportunity to have the necessary skill set, to have the necessary options to change their way of life. Once we can do that, I think it will have a significant impact upon the whole issue of crime and repeat offenders and also individuals who can influence others that are around them positively,” Pennyfeather added.