First Look

Food for the Poor Jamaica frees 9 prisoners for Easter

PROComm | 2016-03-31 00:00:00

Food for the Poor (FFP) Jamaica has paid outstanding fines for the release of 10 prisoners in time for Easter, six from the St. Catherine Adult Correctional Centre, two from the Hunts Bay Police Station; one from the Tower Street Adult Correctional Centre and one from Denham Town Police Station.

Within the last week, FFP Jamaica has paid the fines of these nine prisoners who are classified as non-violent, so that they are able to return to their families.

According to David Mair, Executive Director, FFP Jamaica, “It is the practice of Food For The Poor to free offenders who are not considered a threat to society during the Christmas and Easter holiday periods by paying their fines.

The 10 non-violent offenders we released this year are overjoyed. All of them had heart-breaking stories of how they got into prison and needed someone to pay their fines because they simply could not afford to pay.”

One of the prisoners was a 33-year-old taxi operator who was imprisoned in the St. Catherine Adult Correctional Centre. He was incarcerated on February 29 for a number of traffic related offenses, including driving with excess passengers and operating without a taxi badge.

His fine was approximately $60,000 or he had to face two months in prison. He stated that his plan was to pay for the tickets prior to being charged, but they accidently got destroyed in water while washing his clothes. To access a duplicate would mean travelling to Kingston, but this he did not do. Eventually he was sentenced.

He further stated, “That’s a story of a poor Jamaican who is trying and has made mistakes as all of us human beings do, but he needed to be pardoned. And, as Jesus died to pardon our sins, we at Food For The Poor Jamaica felt that he should be pardoned.” 

Another inmate from St Catherine Adult Correctional Centre, whom FFP Jamaica paid his $100,000 fine, was a 22-year-old vendor who was incarcerated in February for assault and destruction of property.

In explaining the situation that led his sentence, he said, “My cousin and I were actually arguing over a phone. I borrowed his phone to make a call because the one I had was not working, but I really had his phone for a while.

One thing led to another, until eventually the discussions got heated and it turned in a fight. I threw the phone at him at one point and it broke in two. He reported the fight and what happened with the phone to the police. While I was selling slippers in the market the police arrested me.”

When he learnt that he was actually going to prison for the first time, he became distraught, given that his fiancé is pregnant with his first child. 

“I was so afraid. I even tried to resolve the situation with my cousin and things were actually getting better between us, but I still had the fine to pay. I really did not have the money to pay. I thought about asking my mother for help but she recently had two children so she couldn’t afford it.  My father was not around, either. I just started selling slippers in December of last year, so I never saved enough. It was really stressing. I cry and pray every day, just asking God to take care of my baby and girlfriend and beg Him to help me to come out of prison quickly, so I can take care of them properly,” he said.

His prayers have now been answered. FFP has paid his fine of $100,000 and he is now a free man.

For Easter 2016, Food For The Poor released a total of 257 inmates in the countries which they serve, which includes four men were freed in Guyana, 232 men and women in Haiti, 11 men in Honduras and 10 men in Jamaica.

Posted By :Victoria Cann

Company Name : PROComm

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