Wed | Jan 16, 2019

Emotional family reunion for Tower Street inmates ... but a heartbreaking affair for the abandoned

Published:Friday | December 14, 2018 | 12:00 AMJason Cross/Gleaner Writer
It was a tearful moment for this family as their loved one was about to return to his cell block at the Tower Street Adult Correctional Centre in Kingston yesterday. The occasion was the annual Lay Magistrates Association of Jamaica (Kingston Chapter) ‘Christmas Family Day for Spouses and Children of Inmates’ at the institution.
Inmates come out to see their families at the annual Lay Magistrates Association of Jamaica (Kingston Chapter) Christmas Family Day for Spouses and Children of Inmates at the Tower Street Adult Correctional Centre in Kingston yesterday.
This young lady made a ‘I love you, Daddy’ card for her father, who is incarcerated at the Tower Street Adult Correctional Centre in Kingston.
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Christmas is right around the corner, and many await its arrival - except a few inmates at the Tower Street Adult Correctional Centre in Kingston. Being totally abandoned by family and friends, they seem to have lost all hope.

Yesterday, during the Lay Magistrates Association of Jamaica (Kingston Chapter) Christmas Family Day for Spouses and Children of Inmates, a number of prisoners were showered with hugs and kisses from their children and spouses as well as 'I love you, Daddy' cards they had created.

However, some of the neglected inmates were in no mood for smiles even though treats and goodies were provided specially for them.

It was the deliberate decision of Steadman Fuller, the custos of Kingston, to make the roughly 70 abandoned inmates feel special.

"They have lost their freedom, and in addition, nobody comes to look for them. Emotions run high. Some of them may have killed a family member, and the others want nothing to do with them. We have some cases where they don't have a big family," Fuller told The Gleaner.

"Once people hear you get 30 years behind bars, they forget about you, especially if you don't have strong family bonds. They can really get hopeless. What they are given by the State to survive is minimal. So today, the justices of the peace decided to let them know that they are made by God and not forgotten."

For the children who came to visit their fathers, there was a lot of food and entertainment for them to enjoy. There was an art-and-craft area, where the children created postcards and other items, which were presented to incarcerated fathers.

Some of the men could not hold back tears. Even some of the children, wives, and girlfriends were overcome with emotion.

One inmate, who will experience his 27th Christmas behind bars, with two more years to go, told The Gleaner: "We have to make a rough life easy and take it one step at a time. I encourage youth to behave and tek een dem education."

He was visited by his three grandchildren and a sister.

jason.cross@gleanerjm.com