New Christian programme to tackle prisoner reform
Stabroek News
October 21, 2003

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A new programme, which it is hoped will break the cycle of crime by introducing prisoners, ex-prisoners and their families to Jesus Christ, is to start soon in local prisons. Prison Fellowship International (PFI) and the Guyana Prison Service will collaborate on the programme.

The Prison Fellowship supports prison chaplains and assists in advancing the church behind bars. Prison personnel and inmates are expected to undergo training to meet the challenges of the programmes.

Aklilu Tadesse, regional coordinator of PFI at a press conference on Thursday said the fellowship’s range of creative outreach included personal visits, in-prison seminars, bible studies, literature, concerts, radio broadcasts and other activities.

Tadesse said the programmes also assist ex-prisoners with the practical challenges of re-entry into the community, noting that PFI ministries in nine countries provided qualifying ex-prisoners for micro-enterprise loans and business assistance.

He said the fellowship was concerned about children and families who were separated and sometimes abandoned by the imprisonment of a loved one. According to him, PFI ministries operated care- homes for orphan children of prisoners in three countries last year and will care for nearly 300 persons by the end of the year.

PFI seeks to help offenders recognise and take responsibility for the impact of their actions on victims and the community. Tasdesse noted that most prison environments embodied a culture of drug abuse, violence and criminality that impeded the spiritual change and growth of individuals.

Fay Clarke, prison chaplain and executive director of Prison Fellowship Guyana, said a building would soon be erected where persons could be educated on the programme.

Clarke said further that Prison Fellowship Guyana would be reaching out to male and female inmates without prejudice to religious beliefs.

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