Inmates get certified for better lives

Some 45 Northward Prison inmates and parolees graduated Wednesday, 19 April, with certificates in academic and social awareness studies that they say will help them remain outside of prison after release.

Cheered by prison staff, volunteer tutors, and other well-wishers for completing their various studies, the prisoners and parolees proudly collected their awards during a special ceremony in the prison chapel.

According to a Government Information Services Release, students had tackled such disciplines as anger management, computer studies, discovering self, drug awareness, international correspondence, playwriting, stress management, time for change, and total wellness.

Also, five persons sat the General Education Diploma test, with two of them passing all five subjects offered.

‘It has been a long time that I completed anything,’ said one inmate as he delivered the vote of thanks. Another, who delivered the students’ reply, summed up sentiments when he commented, ‘I thank fellow inmates and myself for having the courage to change.’

Director of Prisons Dwight Scott told the graduates there is no magical solution for them upon release, but that much of what they achieve is up to them.

‘There are people in this country who want to see you do good, challenge yourself,’ he said.

Offering a different challenge, Education and Development Coordinator Natalie Caesar stressed the need for the public to support prisoner rehabilitation. ‘What are you in society doing about helping us develop programmes?’ she asked.

The prison’s education system is supported by four paid educational staff, two full time inmate/tutors, and 35 volunteers. However, Ms Caesar also spoke of a need for specialist staff capable of assisting in programmes such as the sentence planning scheme, which outlines the educational path for individual prisoners based on their terms of imprisonment.

National Drug Council Coordinator and guest speaker Catherine Chesnut noted a high percentage of repeat offences among persons jailed at Northward and advised the graduates, ‘You now have skills that could take you to a better state of your life.’

This is the second such graduation for Northward Prison. Last year 30 inmates earned certificates.

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