The level of crime and violence in Jamaica has being rising drastically. Recently, Jamaica has been ranked among the top six countries with the highest murder rate according to a release by the United Nation's Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). It is unfortunate to note that, as the population within our local prisons increase, little is done to rehabilitate and adequately prepare inmates for reintegration once sentence has been served. This has lead to the formation of the European Union funded proposal call and Stand Up For Jamaica’s title action “European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights-Country-based support scheme in Jamaica and Belize” and “Rehabilitation of inmates. A professional and artistic way to come back in the society”.
Stand Up For Jamaica has been playing its part in ‘advancing the welfare of the whole human race,’ by providing educational options, skills training, health and leadership training as well as offering reintegration services for person who are newly released. However, during the years of working closely with the Correctional facilities, there has been a concern about the cruel and inhumane treatment administered to the inmates. Moreover, the local prisons fall below international standards in the fact that the St. Catherine District Prison and Tower Street Adult Correctional centre is built to house 650 and 850 respectively but are currently housing 1100 and 1627. Thus, a research was carried out to ascertain best practices and to see how best these practices can be implemented to compliment and improve upon the current rehabilitation and reintegration activities being delivered to inmates.
Stand up For Jamaica’s and the European Union Profile and Project partnership profile
Stand up for Jamaica is a not-for-profit organization founded in 2007 by a group of volunteers from Group 105 of Amnesty International Italy with the main purpose of providing practical help for Jamaicans, for the most part for court related costs and basic necessities for the inmates on death row in Jamaica’s prisons.
Our current mandate is to enhance and maintain the human rights of all, particularly those who are from the vulnerable groupings – children, women, persons living in impoverish communities, inmates, persons infected and affected by HIV/AIDS, persons living with disabilities, etc, this is done by providing financial and non-financial support to our target populations, and to inform the general public about their rights!
Under this project approximately 200,000 residents of Jamaica which consist of residents of socio-economically deprived communities and societal leaders will gain access to information and messages on rights and rehabilitation activities being done via streaming online which is being broadcasting by FREE 88.9 FM delivered daily and the Media Campaign implemented via radio station that will be delivered on specific dates, such as World Day Against the Death Penalty, Women’s Day, World Day against homophobia, etc. The approximately 100 children being detained at the Fort Augusta Women’s Adult Correctional will benefit from a weekly visit by a Psychologist; between 300-400 warders from the Island’s Correctional facilities will be receiving Human Rights training on prisoners’ rights and given techniques for properly dealing with the inmates and combating corruption. Approximately 1,000 societal leaders in a position to be reform advocates and champions of change will be targeted for education, lobbying and advocacy, since they can implement a change at the policy or practical level. They will include policy makers and societal leadership in the church, judicial, political, media, security, and business spheres. This will be done by way of an advocacy paper that will lobby for the rehabilitation and reintegration of inmates within the wider society; this paper will be developed by Stand Up for Jamaica with consultation with a wide range of stakeholders. Approximately 4,100 inmates at The Tower Street, South Camp Road, St. Catherine, and Fort Augusta Women’s Adult Correctional Facilities are targeted to be empowered to change their future, through activities provided in a rehabilitation programme – once a week psychological support for soon to be released inmates at The Tower Street Adult Correctional Facility, the construction and equipping of a craft lab along with the creation of a “brand” at The Tower Street Adult Correctional Facility to sell inmates’ crafts and to promote restorative justice to these inmates’ victim/victims’ families, the technical training of Peer Educators for the various labs at The Tower Street, St. Catherine, and Fort Augusta Women’s Adult Correctional Facilities, external accreditation for the acquired skills (IT, Computer support and repair, Customer Service, Music, etc) and academic achievement (CSEC English and Mathematics).
It is expected that there will be 3 main results from the project: 1) Increased awareness of rights by citizens, inmates, prison warders and each person’s role in the defence and upholding of those rights. 2) Societal leaders informed and empowered to advocate for substantial, systematic and long lasting change in the Jamaican justice system. 3) Empowered inmates ready to act to change their future after acquiring psychological counselling and educational and professional skills. 4) A significant reduction in the rate of recidivism and by extension the crime rate.
Projects Undertaken By Stand Up For Jamaica
Remedial Classes: Stand up for Jamaica holds remedial classes at the Tower Street, St. Catherine and Fort Augusta Adult correctional Centre’s Mondays to Fridays. These classes are designed to ensure that inmates who enter the facility illiterate and are willing to learn will not leave the same way they came. We support these classes by providing books, pens, pencils, erasers, sharpeners, cartridge paper and other stationery.
CSEC Classes: Classes are also held to prepare students for CSEC classes at least twice weekly. An emphasis is placed on Mathematics and English Language but we look with favour at branching out into other subject areas in the future. We support the CSEC programme by providing all the items mentioned above and qualified teachers which are sourced externally and paid by us.
HEART TRUST/NTA Classes: Classes for certification in data operations. Art & Craft and Musical Performance are presently being conducted jointly with the HEART TRUST/ NTA. Inmates will receive certification from the HEART TRUST/NTA when they have completed the requisite courses. We support this programme by providing stationery and materials while the HEART Trust/NTA provide Teachers and some of the materials needed for craft classes
Music Programme: We have a vibrant Music Programme at Tower Street where inmates learn to play instruments, sing and perform. The documentary Songs of Redemption was a production that focused on some of the exceptional talents in this programme and has won numerous awards regionally and internationally. We support this programme through the provision of a variety of musical instruments and music teachers.
Computer Labs: We have a vibrant computer programme at all three facilities where inmates learn from basic computing, to graphic designing, web designing and programming. We support this programme through the provision of computers, printers, scanners, spare parts and a technician on call to effect any repairs necessary.
Radio Station: There is a radio station at all three facilities where inmates learn broadcasting techniques, producing, editing and how to operate broadcasting equipment. Ninety percent (90%) of the programmes are produced and delivered by inmates under the supervision of officers. Stand up for Jamaica pays for the broadcasting Licenses, purchase equipments and employs a technician to see to the effective working of all equipment and do whatever repairs may be deemed necessary.
Behaviour Change &Psychological Services: We provide a Behavioural Specialist and a psychologist as part of our programmes. The Behavioural Specialist presently has sessions with the adult males at The Tower Street Adult Correctional Facility and the Psychologist works with the minors at South Camp and Metcalf Street Juvenile Facilities.
Gynaecological Services: We provide a Gynaecologist for the girls at south camp who has bi-monthly sessions with them where they learn about their reproductive health and receive any needed attention or examination.
Counseling Services: we provide counseling services for inmates and their children in and out of the institutions. Counseling sessions are held with inmates and our offices are open to the children and spouses of inmates who need counseling.
Educational Assistance and Annual Treat: We provide assistance to inmates’ children who are attending school to ensure that they stay in school and are not condemned to the fate of their parents. We also keep an annual Christmas treat for these children where they are treated and given back to school items.
On an annually basis Stand up for Jamaica caters to over 1000 inmates and 150 children. We purchase over 5000 note books, pens and pencils; 50 computers, 10 printers, 2 scanners, various computer parts and radio equipment parts, guitars, keyboards, drum sets, other musical instruments, stationery and much more. We are forever indebted to the European Union our chief sponsor who is the backbone of all these projects; without the EU we could not survive. We are also grateful to Stand Up For Jamaica Italy who gives us continuous support through various fund raising events all over Europe.