Farm helps prisoners give back to community
The Prison Farm is looking to embark on a raft of new initiatives this year to allow prisoners to give something back to the community.
The correctional facility on Ferry Road in St George’s is home to 54 prisoners — more than half of its capacity.
Chief Officer Reginald Gomes, who runs The Farm, told The Royal Gazette that just last week, Corrections had agreed an initiative with the Bermuda Football Association that would see inmates clearing and maintaining BFA Field in Prospect, Devonshire.
He also said that the facility would be looking to reach out to the Morgan’s Point developers to see if prisoners could provide assistance in the run-up to the America’s Cup.
“We are also looking to adopt a school this year, but we have not yet decided on which one it will be,” said Chief Officer Gomes.
“The aim will be to provide assistance with general maintenance around the campus, similar to the way Co-ed works with Elliott Primary School in Devonshire. This is just one of a raft of initiatives aimed at giving inmates at The Farm the chance to give back to the community.
“The inmates who take part in these programmes are keen and we very rarely have to tell someone that we need them to work at a certain place.
“The process of getting back out into the community and providing assistance helps the inmates build self esteem, which is very important factor.
“There is always the ongoing battle of getting organisations and charities to allow prisoners to work for them, the stigma is very hard to break.
“But we have to change mindsets one case at a time.
“The good news is that we have found that organisations are now reaching out to us to see if we can help.”
The Farm runs a series of in-house programmes that include carpentry classes and a spray-painting workshop that allows inmates to repaint all Corrections vehicles. Prisoners are also actively involved in the preparations for Cup Match and provide invaluable assistance to senior care homes and charities, such as WindReach, across the Island.
Commissioner of Corrections, Colonel Edward Lamb, right, told The Royal Gazette: “Some of these projects are new, but some have been going on for some time.
“Over the years I would estimate that they have helped to save the tax payer millions of dollars.
“Throughout the community, people have their own perception of what justice should look like. It’s a constant effort but once we convert them there is no going back.
“The community must realise that most of these guys are coming back into the community at some point; we are doing our best to filter them back in.”