Sat | Feb 4, 2023

Jamaicans among offenders freed after fines paid by Food For The Poor

Published:Friday | April 15, 2022 | 9:33 AM
The organisation says while it condemns criminal behaviour, it views it as a terrible thing for persons to spend months and even years in prison simply because they were unable to pay fines.

Two Jamaicans were among over 100 non-violent offenders whose fines were paid by international charity Food For The Poor as part of its tradition for holy week.

The initiative benefited a total of 187 non-violent offenders across Guyana, Haiti and Jamaica.

According to the organisation, many of those imprisoned for stealing to feed their families and committing minor crimes are unable to pay the fines required for their release.

It cited extreme overcrowding and the lack of access to adequate food, water and health care as among the difficult conditions that prisoners in those countries often endure, in many cases over long periods.

Those freed this year include a 19-year-old first-time offender from Jamaica who was one of two non-violent inmates released from the St Catherine Adult Correctional Centre.

The organisation says he was detained and arrested for violating curfew and driving without a licence, and had spent nearly three months behind bars on account of being unable to pay the fine.

The young inmate had sincere gratitude for Food For The Poor and its donors.

“If I could see you, I would hug you,” he was quoted as saying.

“You have made my day. You have made my entire life. As simple as it is, I have been longing to go outside. The plan after leaving is to continue raising goats and get some training to become a certified tiler. You have changed my life.”

Ed Raine, CEO/President of Food For The Poor, noted that while the organisation condemns criminal behaviour, it views it as a terrible thing for persons to spend months and even years in prison simply because they were unable to pay fines.

“Life in prison is not easy and, in the countries where Food For The Poor works, prisons can be dangerous and sometimes deadly environments for inmates,” he said, adding that the training and reintegration of non-violent prisoners back into the community as productive citizens is critical.

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