On June 2nd, some 14 inmates of the Belle Isle Correctional Facility graduated from the first phase of a course in Animal Husbandry and Livestock.
The Course which ran for 4 months, encompassed training in Animal Husbandry and Farm Management of Rabbits, Pigs and Ruminant Enterprises. It also focused on control and cost of production and marketing. The programme started as an initiative of the Ministry of Agriculture, Rural Transformation, Forestry and Fisheries through collaboration with the Ministry of National Security. Dr. Coleen Phillips of the Ministry of Agriculture facilitated the four-month course.
Speaking at the graduation ceremony which was held at the Belle Isle Correctional Facility, Dr. Phillips said that the Programme was conceptualized during late 2015 with the concept to prepare the detainees to farm and generate an income, which would ensure that they are equipped to provide for themselves and develop viable farms upon the completion of their prison sentence.
Furthermore, Dr. Phillips disclosed that each graduate upon their release from prison would be awarded a pregnant female animal of their choice. This she said would enable them to start their expected farming enterprise and maintain a sustainable livelihood.
The Management of the Prison has applauded the Ministry of Agriculture for collaborating with the Ministry of National Security to bring the initiative to the Belle Isle Correctional Facility. Superintendent of Prisons (Ag) Mr. Brenton Charles said that for sometime now, prison officials have been seeking to have programmes to enrich the lives of prisoners when they are inside, and when they leave the institution. The four-month training course, he said, is such a programme.
Superintendent Charles said that the Government has always intended for the Belle Isle Correctional Facility to be a productive and self sufficient entity and that the completion of the first phase of the programme is a step towards lifting the burdens off of the backs of Vincentian taxpayers as the prison moves a step closer to becoming self sufficient. Superintendent Charles also called on the business community to partner with the Prison management to execute similar and other initiatives geared towards the rehabilitation and enrichment of the prisoners. By doing this, he said, we will have better young men, which would result in better communities and by extension a better country.