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St Catherine Adult Correctional Centre to put products on market

Published:Friday | July 19, 2019 | 12:00 AM
Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries Audley Shaw (right) reads the label of one of the wines produced by inmates at the St Catherine Adult Correctional Centre during a recent visit to the facility. Joining him are superintendent of the facility, Herbert McFarlane (left), and correctional officer Joel Lilly.

The St Catherine Adult Correctional Centre has created 30 products that it plans to place on the market shortly.

The items include various sauces, wines, beers, syrups, pudding and porridge mixes; tea; and a lotion and hair conditioner.

Twenty-five members of the correctional centre’s 4-H Club are involved in the manufacturing process under the supervision of correctional officers and members of the Jamaica 4-H Clubs.

During a recent tour of the facility, Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries Audley Shaw commended the various stakeholders involved in the initiative. He noted that the project would contribute to the growth of agro-processing in Jamaica.

“We want to develop this as a new industry targeted at several major markets, [including] hotels, our local supermarkets, the Caribbean, the diaspora, [and] markets in developing countries that are looking for exotic things such as the beers. All of these markets can be systematically targeted. This is an opportunity that we cannot afford to miss. I’m truly excited about it,” Shaw said.

Executive Director of the Jamaica 4-H Clubs Dr Ronald Blake said he was pleased to see the difference the project has made in the lives of inmates.

He hailed the Government of Japan and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) for their “significant contributions” in the development of the facility’s agro-processing and manufacturing unit, where the products are made.

“What is particularly remarkable about this model is the fact that we have replicated it in all juvenile institutions, and they are also having some of the same opportunities that these inmates here are having,” he said.

Viable skills

Blake noted that the project was helping to rehabilitate and equip the inmates with viable skills, which will ensure that they can be successfully reintegrated into society upon their release.

Correctional officer Joel Lilly said that in addition to generating income for the correctional facility, the project aims to change the lives of inmates by teaching them lifelong skills in manufacturing and agro-processing.

“We want Jamaicans to support this initiative [by buying the products] because it helps to facilitate rehabilitation. This programme is where inmates learn to be better persons in society. The outward input [from members of the society] will help us to move further and to get more inmates involved in the process,” Lilly said.

He said that the raw materials are sourced locally, with some items grown on the grounds of the facility. All sauce preparation and fermentation is done at the agro-processing centre.