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Helping victims good for prisoners’ souls

August 13th, 2012

"Prisoners should not only pay for their crimes but pay back their victims for their losses, Minister in the Ministry of National Security Subhas Panday proposed to inmates of the Maximum Security Prison."

“If prisoners are allowed to pay remunerations to their victim, or the victims’ family, it may allow them some cleansing of the heart and soul,” said Panday. He shared this view while attending a function at the Maximum Security Prison chapel, Golden Grove, Arouca where NGO, Vision on a Mission (VOM), donated three plasma televisions for the prisons to Prisons Commissioner John Rougier. Also attending the function were Minister of the People and Social Development Dr Glenn Ramadharsingh and Minister in the Ministry of National Security Subhas Panday. Panday said he was well aware of some of the problems facing ex-prisoners as he was a criminal lawyer and had personal experiences with ex-prisoners. He reminded prisoners that they were there for a reason, and proposed they should make the best of their time in the prison. “You never knocked on the gate and asked to be here. There is a reason why you are here. You should then try to make the most of your time at the prison,” said Panday. He suggested prisoners take advantage of educational opportunities provided at the facility as part of the new restorative philosophy for the prisons system advocated by Rougier. Panday also spoke about the possibility of having prisoners use some of their earnings at the prison to pay, in some part, to victims and their families. He said this would allow a prisoner to feel better, not only paying for their crime in terms of serving their sentence, but also by knowing they have repaid their victim in some way. Panday also said there was a need for prisoners to occupy themselves positively while incarcerated, which would enable them to cope better on re-entry to society. He said to facilitate this re-entry, provisions would be made in the next budget for more social workers and probation officers, in order to facilitate ex-prisoners in re-establishing themselves in society. Minister of the People and Social Development Dr Glenn Ramadharsingh, who also attended the function, offered the assistance of his ministry to VOM which helps prisoners on their release from prisons. He said he would help VOM to gain a much needed 53-acre parcel of land, and erect buildings to house ex-prisoners, where VOM could help them gain jobs and have a positive re-entry into society. After giving his personal story about living in a broken down house and sleeping on an old and dirty mattress, after exiting prison, head of VOM Wayne Chance appealed for immediate help to cope with the prisoners he expects to receive by December. Chance said the present prison records show more than 300 prisoners were due to be released by December. However, his Halfway House at Second Street, Mt Dor Road, Champs Fleurs, can accommodate only 40 persons. He said he fears ex-prisoners may return to a life of crime if they are turned away. Chance drew an example using a recent crime. “Wendell Daniel was an ex-prisoner and could not be accommodated here. He went to stay at the Arima Market where he killed a police officer (Elton John),” commented Chance. Daniel was later killed by the police in a shootout. Ramadharsingh said he would encourage companies, some of whom he knew would be willing, to contribute financially in any way they can.  

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