Prison Fellowship Barbados and similar organisations throughout the region have been challenged to take on a regional focus rather than simply focus on an international one.
The challenge came last night from Attorney General and Minister of Home Affairs, Adriel Brathwaite, as he addressed the opening ceremony of the Prison Fellowship International Caribbean Regional Forum at the Church of God of Prophecy, Water Street, Christ Church.
Making reference to concerns raised about Prison Fellowship International by members, the Minister told those present that this was an opportunity to take ownership and look within themselves to see how they could best respond to the needs of citizens throughout the region.
“What we are faced with in this region in terms of the level of criminal activity, we have to tackle as a region. Therefore we also have to respond in terms of how we save more of these same individuals as a region,” he stated.
Mr. Brathwaite reasoned that the existing situation presented the opportunity for countries within the region to see how best they could work together, as they had a common understanding of the challenges that each faced.
“Ours is a responsibility to give people a second chance. Try to help as many people as possible.”Attorney General, Adriel Brathwaite.“You are not denying the effectiveness of Prison Fellowship International, you are just recognising that there are idiosyncrasies of our region that only we are able to respond to because we live it daily,” he explained.
While commending the work of the Prison Fellowship in teaching prisoners the tenets of being a Christian, Mr. Brathwaite repeated a call for a reduction in the recidivism rate in Barbados which now stands at 65 per cent.
However, he stressed that forgiveness had a key role to play in the process. “I say that we must find a way to forgive these young men and women who infringe our criminal justice system; we need to find a way to save them….
“Ours is a responsibility to give people a second chance. Try to help as many people as possible,” he said.
Chairman of Prison Fellowship Barbados, Win Callender, underscored the ability of the organisation, noting that they were able to assist a number of persons, including the children of inmates through that body.
The three-day conference is being held under the theme: Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you. Countries represented at the conference include Barbados; Antigua and Barbuda; Belize; Bermuda; Cayman Islands; Guyana; Trinidad and the US Virgin Islands.