05th May 2016
The Prisoners` Rehabilitation Program came in for high praise during the first anniversary ceremony which was recently held in the Chapel at the sewage treatment plant at McKinnon's. The idea, which came to fruition in April 2015, is an initiative of the Environment Division which falls under its Men Against Negative Attitudes (MANA) program.
During the celebratory service, Chief Environment Officer, Ambassador Dianne Black Layne said that despite all the problems and opposition that the program has faced, it will continue into the foreseeable future.
"We have had some negative feedbacks in the newspapers and on Face book but we are still hanging in. This is not a program that everybody is going to like but some people do support it and there are those who might be afraid and that is natural but we are just going to keep our work going", Ambassador Black-Layne stated.
Also in attendance was the then acting Governor General, His Excellency Sir James Beethoven Carlisle, Reverend Bishop Charlesworth Browne, Superintendent of Her Majesty's Prison, Albert Wade, Project Coordinator, Norbert Churchill and Supervisor of the Prison's Rehabilitation Initiative, Itajah Simmons.
Simmons said that he is pleased with all the progress that has been made over the past twelve months and gave a brief outline of the some of the group's accomplishment to date.
"Well a year ago we started the fencing of the sewage treatment plant and that has been completed, we are now laying the foundation for the pig unit and the chicken unit so we have begun some work in terms of getting these two units prepared for meat and egg production", Simmons said.
When asked about the plans for the program going forward, Simmons said that the sewage treatment plant will begin servicing a hotel and a supermarket in the area.
"We will be commissioning the sewage treatment plant soon and then we will begin to treat sewage waste that is coming from Antigua Village, the First Choice Supermarket and we will even extend the invitation to the community above us so we can properly treat their waste. Then that treated waste water will be used to supply the local farmers in the area and even back to the Antigua Village Hotel where it will be used for irrigation purposes", Simmons continued.
He is also hoping to increase the number of inmates that are currently enrolled in the program.
"It has been a long year and I am proud to be a part of this movement and we are looking forward to greater things because our ultimate goal is to have sixty inmates working with us on the program. And with these sixty men we hope to accomplish great things in Antigua and Barbuda", he said.
Superintendent Wade also addressed the gathering and during his brief remarks, he urged the prisoners to remain resolute and continue to build on the foundation that has already been laid.
"I just want to urged each and every one of you to continue pressing forward, continue to build upon what has been built from the first group of trailblazers and I hope that you continue to stay the course and work hard and understand what this program can do for you and ultimately for Antigua and Barbuda", Wade said.
Carlisle, who was at the time acting on behalf of His Excellency Sir Rodney Williams who was overseas, was full of smiles as he addressed the group.
He told the gathering that what he has heard and read about the program has been very inspiring and worthwhile and expressed his happiness of learning that the program, which was once called the Prison Farm Project, was rebranded under the banner of the Rehabilitation Program.
The initiative, which started with just over a dozen inmates, has now grown to twenty three (23).
The exercise has already borne fruit with three of the former prisoners who were enrolled in the program now being employed at the Environment Division.
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