Tue | Sep 26, 2017

10 minutes to treasure - Children enjoy short Christmas visit with prison inmates

Published:Sunday | December 18, 2016 | 12:00 AMChristopher Serju
A mother displays a a post card made by a child for her father who is an inmate at the Tower Street Adult Correctional Centre during the annual family day last Thursday.
This young boy had a message for his father, which he shared through a handmade postcard during last week’s annual family day at the Tower Street Adult Correctional Centre.
Ten minutes with his child just once for the year is invaluable for this inmate of the Tower Street Adult Correctional Centre.
The joy of hugging his child was obvious in the face of this inmate of the Tower Street Adult Correctional Centre during the annual family day at the facility last week.
This child obviously did not want to let go of this inmate, who she was seeing for the first time since the start of this year.
A tender moment for this inmate of the Tower Street Adult Correctional Centre and his family members during last week’s family day at the facility.
Custos of Kingston Steadman Fuller (centre) prays with inmates of the Tower Street Adult Correctional Centre during last Thursday’s family day.
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It is a day that many inmates of the Tower Street Adult Correctional Centre look forward to eagerly. Many ensure they are on their best behaviour in the lead-up to make certain that they are on the list allowed to spend a few precious minutes with their children.

This year it was no different as the Lay Magistrates' Association of Jamaica organised the annual family day at the maximum-security prison last Thursday, and many adults took full advantage of the chance to allow children to visit family members who are inmates.

Among those present was 10-year-old Judith*, who was there to see visit her maternal grandfather, accompanied by grandmother Claudia*.

"She nuh sleep, she wake up from four o'clock this morning dying fi come here, even me," Claudia told The Sunday Gleaner, highlighting the anticipation for this annual event.

The inmate, Robert*, has already served 11 years of his 15-year conviction for charges which were not disclosed, and so this is the only setting in which the young child has spent time with her grandfather.

"She nuh get much time with him," said Claudia as she admitted that she, too, has been hard hit by Robert's absence from home.

"Honestly, me nuh know how we work out but we work out. It takes a lot (out of you) because even with me and him - we break off a lot, maybe because of the time and the point of views change, and then we back and we want it work. Me a tell you seh fi the next four years, it nuh really matter if it take four or five, I'm going to be here for him," she vowed.

More quality time

Claudia's Christmas wish list includes a request for more of the quality time with her incarcerated spouse.

"We wish we could all eat together but they didn't allow us that time. We wish they could extend the time we spend," she lamented, even while giving thanks for the bittersweet experience.

"Is only 10 minutes with him but it better than nothing at all, but I think that 10 minutes more sad than happy. You glad to see him," added Claudia with a smile.

Earlier, Judith had gleefully accepted two bottles of soda from her grandfather and presented him with the home-made greeting card she had lovingly crafted with provisions from Sangster's Book Store, one of the many corporate entities which each year help to make this event a reality.

* Names changed on request.

christopher.serju@gleanerjm.com