Wed | Nov 14, 2018

Tamarind Farm serious about rehabilitation ... Supported by Ja Foundation for Lifelong Learning

Published:Wednesday | February 8, 2017 | 12:00 AMChristopher Serju
Commissioner of the Department of Correctional Services, Ina Hunter discusses an issue of interest with deputy commissioner Joyce Stone.
Baldwin Collins, superintendent in charge of the Tamarind Farm Adult Correctional Centre, Salt Pond Road, Spanish Town in St Catherine, goes through details of the programme with Reverend Ellen Thomas, co-ordinator of the Lifeskill 101 Rehabilitation Project, ahead of Wednesday’s graduation and official launch of the Peace Approach Initiative.

Under the leadership of Superintendent Baldwin Collins, staff at the Tamarind Farm Adult Correctional Centre located at Salt Pond Road, Spanish Town in St Catherine, has been quietly making strides in helping to turn around the lives of inmates who come under their charge.

Members of the chaplaincy unit of the Department of Correctional Services have also been very instrumental in engaging members of both the private and public sector to contribute to effective re-socialising of the inmates, through improved educational and appropriate skills training opportunities.

Despite a serious lack of resources, the institution is going ahead with a number of initiatives, Reverend Ellen Thomas, coordinator of the rehabilitation programme, disclosed recently during the official launch of the PEACE Approach Initiative.

"We believe that no inmate should come to Tamarind Farm can't read and go back home not being able to read. We want to be able to help them to read and write and if they came in at a particular level, we want to take them to another stage," she declared.

So even though there is only one classroom, with plans to host three classes simultaneously, Chaplain Thomas is going ahead. The institution has secured some gravel to use as the floor of the outdoor classes which will be held under tents, which have not yet been procured.

"The inmates are ready to go, and we cannot wait until we have a perfect situation. So we are asking for support in identifying at least two tents to be used as temporary measures, and we need chairs. We would be happy to have at least a hundred chairs, so we can sit on them and hold the books in our hands until better comes," she appealed.

The Tamarind Farm Adult Correctional Centre, in Spanish Town, St Catherine, has the support of the Jamaica Foundation for Lifelong Learning which has committed to providing teachers. The Rural Agricultural Development Authority, the extension arm of the agriculture ministry has agreed to plough the land to be used for cultivation of cassava, cucumber, callaloo, cabbage, lettuce and sorrel. Excelsior Community College will be providing lecturers for the food, preparation module of the programme, but a severe shortage or equipment could stall this programme.

Reverend Ellen Thomas, coordinator of the rehabilitation programme, served up this checklist.

"We are in need of support as we move forward in this regard two six-burner gas stoves, a refrigerator, a deep freeze, some pots and pans that we can use for the programme."

Meanwhile, Pearnel Charles Jr state minister in the Ministry of National Security, gave the assurance that he would be stepping up efforts to help the Department of Correctional Services achieve its objectives. He however acknowledged that things not work according to plan.

Different view

"We spent last year going around meeting and doing a lot of talking; 2017 is a year of implementation. I have taken your concerns and suggestions to the highest level, (but) one thing I am learning about the Government, being a new member, is what I think in my mind will take a week, sometimes we have a difference in interpretation," said Charles.

"It's not that I am frustrated. I just can't understand and I don't intend to ever reach a stage where I understand why things role along. If we don't push the system, we are going to be forever pushing a stone up a very steep hill, instead of simply asking ourselves, 'how can we work together to move in a way that will move our progress so we can feel it?' We have a great opportunity in 2017!"