Caleen’s First Visit to Tower Street

June 19th, 2008 by lecia-gaye gordon

Caleen Diedrick is the newest member of the S.E.T family, joining us in July 2008.  Armed with a first degree in psychology, Caleen is often able to get the toughest answers out of inmates with her firm yet gentle prodding. Caleen currently hosts the S.E.T chat radio programme which is aired on Wednesday’s on FREE FM, the prison radio. We hope to post excerpts from the S.E.T Chat programme as the inmates do have a lot of thought provoking and powerful things to say as they find creative and meaningful ways of telling their story.  

Below is Caleen’s diary entry of her first visit to Tower Street Adult Correctional Faclitity. Tower Street is a maximum security facility which holds over 1500 of Jamaica’s most hardened criminals. The S.E.T group has already began to powerfully transform a group of men behind these bars…

Today was my first visit to the General Penitentiary and if the truth be told I had mixed feelings, namely that of trepidation and strangely enough, enthusiasm.  The structure was very imposing but matched my image of a prison more closely than that of Fort Augusta Adult Correctional Facility. We entered the compound and cleared the security check point without incident and crossed over into the courtyard.  Men were playing football and others were exercising but in spite of that the stares and comment were forthcoming almost instantly.  Thankfully, the S.E.T Lab was in close proximity to the courtyard.

 

I entered the nicely appointed building and took a seat at a table in the middle of the room. They were computers lining the walls and a radio station FREE 88.9 FM was in one corner.

 

We waited as the members were summoned and the meeting was eventually called to order, by President Johnson. I sat and listened in silence as the group structure was outlined and some of the members discuss their issues, namely their discontent with President Johnson’s management style.  I observed the interaction with great interest and a few things caught my attention.

 

Firstly, the deportment and attire of the members left me awestruck. They took pride in putting them selves together and Pres. Johnson was in office garb. It became apparent to me then that I had preconceived notions (however latent) of this group of men; I was pleasantly surprised.

 

My second observation was that all high ranking members were referred to by their title.  This created for me a sense of mutual respect in the room.

 

As the meeting progressed I began to feel as though I was part of an executive body hammering out strategies for the future. I was very impressed by this unlikely grouping of men who seem very involved and passionate about there respective posts and duties. I felt as though I was part of something very important that had the potential to change the lives of those who came in contact with it.  My views were mirrored by the attending officer who firstly admonished the members, then told them to raise the bar and rise to the occasion as this can and will be very beneficial to them.

 

I came away thinking that all the inmates should be exposed to a rehabilitation program as it not only satisfies their social need to be apart of a group but provide the members with  the requisite skills that can promote personal growth and more importantly can be utilize to facilitate a smooth transition back into society.

 

Caribbean Corrections Summit 2008 – Bahamas

June 16th, 2008 by lecia-gaye gordon

On Sunday, April 20, 2008, Kevin and I were off to the Caribbean Correctional Summit hosted in Nassau, Bahamas.  Despite being delayed for over 6 hours and being detained in the Nassau airport for an additional hour and a half because of a tip off about the possibility of drug trafficking on our flight we were still excited about the possibilities of attending this seminar. A lot of work was put into our presentation to be delivered by Kevin on Wednesday. Our mission was to network, form useful ties and most importantly to sell the idea of S.E.T. (Students Expressing Truth). S.E.T is a non governmental organization that aims to rehabilitate inmates through a technology, inmate driven process. The organization operates in three maximum security facilities in Jamaica – Tower Street, South Camp and Fort Augusta. This programme has been a major success in these institutions and we strongly believe that the S.E.T approach is the most effective method of rehabilitating inmates. It was Kevin’s job (with the aid of pre-recorded audio-visual presentation and booklet) to convince those present at the summit that S.E.T should be implemented in their prisons.

 

Day One (Monday – April 21, 2008)

 

Morning:

 

At 12:30 a.m. Monday morning we are rescued by our apologetic hosts who quickly whisk us away before being subjected to the search that was clearly about to be conducted of most of the passengers on our flight. By 1 a.m. we were checking into our hotel and being told that we needed to be ready for pick up at 8:00 a.m.  So with less than 3 hours sleep we were up again preparing ourselves for the first day of a full day of activities.

 

True to their word at 8:00 a.m. the delegates bus was waiting for us, fortunately we were all ready. The summit was being held at the correctional institution so this meant that we were not allowed to take telephones, recording devices or cameras unto the premises. After going through security check were driven to the location for the Opening Ceremony. With lots of fanfare, we were thoroughly entertained by an incredible performance by the Prison Band. However, the highlight of the session came from the keynote speaker – Hon. Orville A.T. Turnquest, Bahamas Minister of National Security.

 

Minister Turnquest noted that halting and reversing current crime trends was an important focus for all Caribbean countries and was the important issue facing correctional facilitates across the islands. He noted that there was a challenge to reduce the overcrowding in facilities while seeking to find alternative solutions to custodial sentences. With the changes of the 21st century, he emphasized that correctional officers ought not to be instruments of brutality but agents of change and facilitators of rehabilitation. He revealed that the Bahamas recidivism rate was currently 22% and this was partly as a result of the success in rehabilitation programmes. The Minister extended his welcome to all the delegates and expressed a desire for regional integration and partnership that will establish best practices in corrections through effective networking.

 

The minister’s presentation was followed by the vote of thanks and refreshments. The afternoon sessions were to follow shortly.

 

Afternoon:

 

There were 3 afternoon sessions that would culminate with a tour of the facility. The sessions to be presented were: How Do We Keep Ourselves Motivated; No More Useless Meetings and would culminate with a tour of the prisons.

 

The first presentation was conducted by Ms. Racquel Deveaux, a counselor at the Crisis Intervention and Prevention Centre. The main points of her presentation were:

  • Know what your talents are
  • Communicate weaknesses to your superior
  • Look inside for your strength
  • Know where your strength comes from
  • Don’t sweat the small stuff
  • Prepare yourself

 

One point of major debate was the source of motivation. Ms. Deveaux insisted that real motivation should come from within and not the outside world, while most of the participants held the belief that greater sources of motivation came from job perks, recognition, commendation, increased pay and loved ones. This spirited debate concluded with the potent encouragement to have faith in our vision, even if no one else can see our vision as this was the true definition of faith!

 

 

The second topic was delivered by Mr. Rodrick Colebrooke the Toastmaster Area Governor for District 55, Nassau. This presentation was well received by the audience. Everyone could relate to meetings that were long, boring and often pointless. Mr. Colebrooke helpful hints on how to structure an agenda and conduct meaningful meetings were greatly appreciated:

 

  • Send out the agenda in advance so that others are aware of what will be discussed and can be prepared with relevant information
  • Give as many persons as possible the opportunity to speak but exercise time management
  • Listen and be attentive
  • Be prepared to give credit for good ideas
  • Always keep the meeting flowing
  • Be prepared
  • Have an action plan

 The Prison Tour

 

The tour was conducted by Dr. Elliston Rahming, the Superintendent of Prisons. Nassau has one prison that is sectionalized into maximum, medium and minimum security. There is also a female and juvenile facility on the compound. The prison holds approximately 2,500 inmates. This was an interesting experience as when compared with Jamaica the Bahamas prisoners exist in far more humane conditions. A walk through the institution revealed dormitory type cells with bunk beds and adequate toilet facilities for the inmates. There were also rehabilitative work programmes available to inmates in medium and minimum security facilities, many of whom could be seen moving about the compound completing their chores.

 

Another stark difference to the Jamaican prisons was that inmates all wore blue and white horizontal stripped uniforms. Inmates were therefore readily identifiable as opposed to the Jamaican facilities where inmates are allowed to wear casual clothing provided by their family members. However, the single most glaring similarity between these inmates and those at home was the sense of hopelessness and despair that emanate from inmates. My summation is that loss of freedom and the punishment of being caged produces the same feelings in humans all across the world, even if they are being housed in slightly better conditions. One cannot help but look at these individuals and wonder, what is their story? What situations/conditions drove them to the point of committing crimes? Are they to be condemned and treated like animals as popular opinion suggests or should we seek to find a way to fix the problem?

 

As we stroll down the condemned block or death row, the despair is even more evident. Most of these inmates slump in their cells like wounded creatures. Unlike the inmates in the other sections, these inmates are not interested in getting our attention, they have nothing to say and the resigned acceptance of their fate is obvious. To see this look on the face of a human like yourself is a painful experience and you almost want to reach out to help, without even considering their crimes. I think this is why we have prisons. The truth is that if these individuals are kept locked away from us and out of sight then we won’t have to face the truth.

 

The female prison was also an interesting visit. Bahamas has very few female inmates, if my memory serves me correctly, less than 40. However, what was a shocking experience was our encounter with four Jamaican inmates. These females are behind bars for working illegally in the Bahamas. Their sentence is approximately 18 months and if they are unable to pay a fine of US$3000, a further 6 months. Now, while it is up to any country to determine the policies and mode of punishment for what they classify as criminal activities, it was a terribly hard pill to swallow. I still am unable to grapple with the idea that someone is punished for working or trying to earn an honest living. When one considers the living conditions in Jamaica and the sheer poverty in which many exists it does not become too difficult to imagine why someone would risk working illegally in a country to make life better for themselves and their children. These individuals are not only working illegally, but many are being grossly underpaid and entitled to no benefits at all. They are therefore being exploited. But they are willing to risk it because it is still more than what they could possibly earn at home.

 

It is sad and it is truly a poor reflection on the leadership in Jamaica and the provisions for low skilled and unskilled individuals. But the more serious question is: should these individuals be imprisoned? An individual who wasn’t found with drugs or involved in any criminal activity, but just working albeit illegally should in my mind simply be sent home. You could deport them and ban them from entering your country ever again but I cannot agree with imprisoning them. What is this punishment intended to accomplish and what is the rehabilitation achieved through imprisonment?

 

I am further confused as we purport to have some sort of Caribbean Single Market Economy. I admittedly do not know a lot about its objectives but I thought one of the primary aims was to facilitate the free movement or travel of Caribbean nationals to work, study, etc. Somehow I feel that this is the free movement of only a particular class of individuals – the trained professionals – but what about the movement of domestic helpers and other unskilled individuals who are seeking a better life for themselves: Should they be punished?  And where is the Jamaican ambassador? What is his influence in this process? In Bahamas we were told that the ambassador is really a Jamaican, Bahamian who has his ordinary job and functions more like an honorary representative. The inmates’ certainly don’t know who this representative is and from the Jamaica side of things their family members simply know that they are in Bahamas and they haven’t heard from them in a while.

 

So from all angles it’s a really sad state of affairs and whether the change will come from government or individuals there must be some other way to deal with individuals who are caught working ‘honestly’ in another man’s country. Maybe you disagree. I invite your thoughts.

 

 

Day 2 – Tuesday April 22, 2008

 

The days to follow were filled with lively discussions and useful presentations.

 

Mr. Jim Hoffman, Director of Operations at the Pointman Leadership Institute in California, USA gave a very spirited presentation on Ethics in Corrections. Unfortunately, the hotel crew missed most of this presentation because of the dense traffic.

 

  Mr. Anthony Phillips presentation on Procurement in the Prison Industry was a very enlightening presentation. The range of products available to make inmates living conditions more humane but without breaches of security was amazing. The products included toiletries, clothing, shoes and many other items of interest. The most appealing aspect of his presentation was that on the building of new facilities using a method very different from the conventional concrete structure to which we are accustomed. This method involved the creation of prisons utilising the dome structure.  The interesting thing about these building is that they are perfect for hurricane prone countries, like the Caribbean. The security is near perfect and centrally located. In other words, everything is computerized and can be manned from one central area. The buildings can be designed to accommodate a court and male and female prisons all in the same structure but completely separated. This got most persons excited as correctional officers are all too aware of the great difficulties involved in transporting inmates to and from courts.  

 

Afternoon

 

In the afternoon the excitement was heightened with a live demonstration from Composite Armor Services. Their bullet proof vests and other protective gears were put to the test and were able to successfully withstand fire power from M16, 9mm and handguns. It was a frightening but interesting and very awesome experience. Watching live rounds being pumped into a dummy, I couldn’t help but acknowledge that in reality these shots are not being fired at dummies but real live humans.

 

After the demonstration it was too late for our tour of the Atlantis – which we heard so much about and so that trip was cancelled. That ended the day’s session.

 

Day 3 – Wednesday April 23, 2008

 

Day 3 started off with an incredible and timely presentation from Dwight Scott, Director of Prisons in the Cayman Island. His presentation entitled From Punishment to Corrections: the Inherent Challenges highlighted the following:

 

  • Challenges of Correctional Facilities
    • Resources
    • Facilities
    • Human power

 

  • Need for public relations campaign to sensitize people to role of Correctional Officers – Correctional Officers are not merely keepers of people off the street
  • Correctional officers should be trained to deal with anger management as they receive the brunt of the inmates’ anger/frustration.
  • Role of officers must be trained to deal with the inmates – specialist in several areas
  • Lacking in credible data  for the need for  prison rehabilitation – need to build on the  literature within the Caribbean region
  • Stop seeing inmates as objects and see them as subjects – The more officers withdraw themselves from the inmates the bigger the divide
  • Active communication is the best room for rehabilitation
  • Need for a conducive learning environment
  • The Caribbean needs to devise key performance indicators of our success within the prison rehabilitation programmes.
  • Accountability is necessary for the rehabilitation programmes  -  we need to set targets and operate on best practices methods
  • Competition from private organizations to deliver quality service that correctional officers and government cannot itself deliver will eventually force the government to look to the cheapest, most economical way to ensure that an efficient organization is being managed.
  • Need for job redesigns –  present correctional officers job descriptions were written while islands were still colonized and do not relate to the roles and needs of today
  • The training received must reflect the dynamism of the organization

 

He closed by emphasising that Correctional Officers must embrace the change from mere punishment to successful rehabilitation.

 

The presentation which followed was entitled Time Management was presented by Dr. Wayne Thompson of the Crisis Intervention and Prevention Centre in the Bahamas. This presentation on time management was hard hitting and it was evident from the reaction in the room that he was stepping on many toes. He especially focused on meetings and the way in which organizations often waste time with useless and poorly planned meetings. He also made a very interesting observation (supported by research) that most organizations are hindered by those person who operate at mid management level. He argues that this is the case because in most instances the persons who occupy these positions are privy to information from the top and bottom of the organization and in order to preserve their power and positions normally disseminate only that information which they think is relevant. Most of the information is therefore stuck with these individuals or manipulated for their selfish purposes. This analysis was met with strong agreement from an eager audience. Dr. Thompson’s presentation was overwhelmingly successful and left many persons taking an introspective look at themselves.

 

 

The presentation which followed was entitled “Cyber Technology as a tool of Rehabilitation” and was presented by Kevin Wallen, Director of S.E.T Foundation (Students Expressing Truth). This was our presentation and Kevin delivered making exciting use of technology as Harvard Law Professor Charles Nesson was able to participate in the presentation via internet from his office in Boston. Both Professor Nesson and Kevin used Second Life and their avatars to demonstrate how strategic classes could be held with inmates with lecturers and participants from anywhere in the world. The presentation also showed how the inmates would learn to apply the strategic skills from games such as chess, tic tac toe and poker to their everyday situation and learn to be better individuals upon reintegration into society. The possibilities were endless and the audience was very receptive and eager to understand how the technology would work.

 

Concerns about security of this particular teaching method through use of computers and especially internet was quickly dispelled as Kevin assured the audience that security blocks could be put in place to ensure that inmates could only access the learning  rooms and no where else on the internet.  A video presentation of the S.E.T project also outlined how S.E.T operates in Jamaica and the successes that the project has had since its inception in 1999. The S.E.T model which focuses on inmate driven, technology learning environment which empowers inmates with marketable skills such as audio/video production, desktop publishing, landscaping among others is a unique project which the S.E.T Foundation hopes to replicate across the Caribbean. The audience was also given a taste of the prison radio station Free FM which operates from the Tower Street Adult Correctional Facility and the Inmate Diaries project which documents the life experiences of inmates in maximum security facilities in Jamaica.

 

The day ended with a welcome tour of beautiful Bahamas!

 

Day 4 – Thursday April 24, 2008

 

Thursday was a short day.

 

The major presentation for the day was Managing and leading Change, presented by Dr. Elliston Rahming, Superintendent of Her Majesty’s Prisons in Nassau, Bahamas. This was a powerful presentation with special impact on the Correctional Officers who were members of his team. Dr. Rahming pointed to the difficulties and challenges which he experienced in overseeing a prison and reaffirmed the need for full commitment and participation from all players. He noted that change “bubbled up rather than trickled down” and so it was often necessary for those on the ground who were closer to the inmates and who experience the daily challenges to agitate for change in particular policies and conditions. He also noted that not everyone was recipient of change or efficiency as many persons were comfortable with the old ways and many were especially resistant of change when the changes show up their corrupt practices or their ineptness. He reaffirmed his commitment to change and rallied the support of those who were genuinely interested in the rehabilitation of inmates.

 

The final presentation of the day was delivered by Mr. Leslie Campbell, General Secretary of the Jamaica Federation of Corrections and was entitled “The Importance of Effective Networking in Corrections.” Mr. Campbell gave a very spirited discussion of the networking among correctional officers in the Caribbean but pointed out that there remained greater need for more communication and sharing of human and physical resources among colleagues in the region.  This was a perfect way to wrap up the conference as an email listing was collected and passed around so everyone could keep in touch.

 

The closing ceremony ensued as participants collected their certificates, filled out an evaluation of the presentations and events and took pictures. With delegates from Jamaica, the Cayman Island, Trinidad, Guyana, Canada, Turks and Caicos, U.S.A and our host country Bahamas, it was truly a noteworthy event and we look forward to the next conference in TRINIDAD!

 

The conference really ended at a cultural night for overseas delegates hosted at the superintendent’s home with entertainment provided by Her Majesty’s Pop Band and that was truly a blast. I’m sure I speak for all the delegates when we say thank you Bahamas for a truly wonderful experience. You were perfect hosts and we look forward to visiting you again soon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tower Street Executive Meeting Minutes June 2, 2008

June 9th, 2008 by David Sasaki

Every Wednesday the SET group at Tower Street Correctional Center in Kingston Jamaica meets to produce a weekly radio program which is broadcast on community radio and the internet. We will soon make those broadcasts available as podcasts. In the mean time, we will post the minutes from each weekly meeting.

Minutes of Executive meeting for June 2, 2008
Starting count: 7

The Meeting was called to order By President Johnson at 11:10am and apologies were made for V/P Davis, Treasurer Drummond and Dir. Walters.

President Johnson made mention of the improvement on the part of signing of register. It was also noticed on the new format as the register is now being written up for a week in advance. President Johnson made a request for jingles in respect to the reading of the news and sports.
In regards to the letters, members were notified by President Johnson that the letters are being dealt with, as he is presently revising same so the Superintendent in charge can view those (letters) then send off.

President Johnson then instructed Assistant Secretary Ivey to make notice of special dates, as we will start the preparation of letters for the Christmas celebration immediately following the Anniversary function. The date that was schedule for that was Thursday 26 of June 2008.All letters would be processed and taken to the Superintendent. A date was then asked of members to agree on for our celebration by President Johnson, we settled for the 27 of June 2008, and a letter of request will be sent to Head Office for the permission of visitors to be allowed then.

Secretary Taylor made a suggestion regarding the logo for the group but President Johnson said that this would be a project for the computer class, which will be starting sometime soon.

President Johnson asked of members if it would be possible for any member to ask their visitors to bring shirts on visits in order to make things a little lighter on the expense of Governor Wallen. Members then agreed to do so then debate on the color for shirts before agreeing on Long sleeve white shirts for the start because uniforms will be required for the Anniversary. Meeting was then adjourned by President Johnson and second by Secretary Taylor.

Tower Street Meeting Minutes May 28, 2008

May 28th, 2008 by David Sasaki

Every Wednesday the SET group at Tower Street Correctional Center in Kingston Jamaica meets to produce a weekly radio program which is broadcast on community radio and the internet. We will soon make those broadcasts available as podcasts. In the mean time, we will post the minutes from each weekly meeting.

HELD ON WEDNESDAY
May 21, 2008.
AT TOWER STREET ADULT
CORRETTIONAL CENTRE SET CHAT ROOM
2-4 TOWER STREET KINGSTON
AGENDA
MEETING CALL TO ORDER
PRAYER
INTRODUCTION
OPENING COMMENTS
APOLOGIES
READING OF LAST MINUTES
AMENDMENTS
CONFIRMATION OF MINUTES
TOPICS FOR DISCUSSION…………
a. BIRTHDAYS, ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATIONS
b. PGI PRESENTATION
c. THOUGHT OF THE DAY AND OF THE WEEK’
d. VOCABULARY WORD
DISCUSSION TOPIC
Featured by Aunty Caleen
GOVERNOR’S PRESENTATION
ADJOURNMENT

Meeting was called to order at 10:25am by President Johnson and this was second by Secretary Taylor.
Prayer: was done by Deputy Chaplin Gayle

Introduction:

Secretary Taylor introduced himself then asked the members of the group to introduce themselves and their portfolios, this was after Gov Wallen inquire of the whereabouts of the president who was noticeably absent from the table without an explanation. at this stage the group was out of integrity and again the meeting was not started on time. Gov. Wallen seeks to get some redress on this issue. Eng. Barrett took responsibility for misleading the secretary on the time of the meeting both Eng. Barrett and Eng. Lewis assured the meeting that they would take responsibility for making sure that this error does not reoccur. The time noted for meeting was 10:00am and not 10:30 as was thought by members of the group Gov. Wallen then introduced David Susaki and Georgia Poepawell who were from Harvard and of global voices.

Opening Comments:

Gov. Wallen stated his dissatisfaction on the repeated late start of meetings, there were no reason for this however, the explanations were already accepted, and the meeting moved on.
Apologies: were made for Dir. Paulwell

We went on air at 111:00am aunty Caleen took over as host of the SET CHAT program. She said she wanted to talk about fathers, and what role they play in the family; what have the fathers put in place to make sure the family stays in place. SET members took turns and gave their views on the subject. We went on a break and Gov. Wallen took the time to talk to the group about the two people who were trained in the studio he said people were going to be trained how to develop their radio program.

Tower Street Meeting Minutes May 21, 2008

May 21st, 2008 by David Sasaki

Every Wednesday the SET group at Tower Street Correctional Center in Kingston Jamaica meets to produce a weekly radio program which is broadcast on community radio and the internet. We will soon make those broadcasts available as podcasts. In the mean time, we will post the minutes from each weekly meeting.

***

Starting Count 18
Governor: Kevin Wallen
Psychologist Caleen Deidritch

Thought for the week was “Self confidence is the first requisite to great understanding.”

Agenda:

  1. Meeting call to order
  2. Prayer
  3. Introduction
  4. Opening Comments
  5. Apologies
  6. Reading of last minutes
  7. Topics for discussion …
    1. Birthdays, anniversary celebrations
    2. PGI Presentation
    3. Thought of the day and of the week
    4. Vocabulary word
  8. Governor’s Presentation
  9. Adjournment

Meeting: was called to Order by Secretary Taylor at 10:35 a.m.
Prayer: was done by : Assistant Chaplain Gayle
Introduction: Members of the group introduced themselves and their portfolios
Opening Comments: Was made by President Johnson, after which
Apologies: Apologies were made for Engineer Lewis and Dir. Hill
Minutes: Reading of minutes was done by Asst. Secretary Leon Ivey
Amendments: This was noted by Governor Wallen as it was “Harvard University” and not “Hartford” as was stated in the minutes.

Secretary Taylor turned the meeting over to President Johnson who then informed Gov. Wallen and his visiting team of the group’s grown and development. A report of the last executive metting was reiterated by President Johnson. The meeting was then turned over to Gov. Wallen who then asked of the President for a copy of Monday’s executive meeting.

Governor Wallen made the introduction of Professor Nesson and then spoke on part of discipline where time is concerned as members were not prepared for the meeting even though being present; the group was by then out of integrity. The group had a lengthy negative discussion on this issue.

The group finally made a decision; Governor Wallen informed the group that any member could take the initiative to start the meeting. A decision was taken for President Johnson to apologize on behalf of the group in order for the group to get back into integrity. This was not accepted by the group and so an individual approach was taken for each member to apologize on their behalf. Acting Overseer Johnson commented that leaders must take control and one should not sit and wait. Aunty Caleen inserted that every member agreed on the time that we were to start so we should try to put the blame on someone. Eventually we were back in integrity at 11:15 a.m.

Governor Wallen then introduced Professor Nesson from Harvard University who then introduced the group to some game ideas, which would help the way we think.

He said he wanted to teach us what we want to learn and not what he wants to teach us. He also introduced Second Life, a software that could help us to interact with others via cyber-space. This would be us a great deal of knowledge as he also introduced the group to 3D, which is a Dimension Immersive Environment he also introduced Second Life, an environment to create an avatar which can navigate through the game environment. Members of the group then participated in a game of tic-tac-toe. On this note SET chat ended. Meeting was adjourned by Secretary Taylor and seconded by VP Davis.

Tower Street Meeting MInutes May 19, 2008

May 19th, 2008 by David Sasaki

Executive meeting minutes
May 19, 2008
AT TOWER STREET ADULT
CORRETTIONAL CENTRE SET CHAT ROOM
2-4 TOWER STREET KINGSTON

AGENDA
MEETING CALL TO ORDER
PRAYER
INTRODUCTION
OPENING COMMENTS
APOLOGIES
READING OF LAST MINUTES
AMENDMENTS
CONFIRMATION OF MINUTES
TOPICS FOR DISCUSSION…………
a. BIRTHDAYS, ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATIONS
b. PGI PRESENTATION
c. THOUGHT OF THE WEEK’
d. VOCABULARY WORD
DISCUSSION TOPIC
Featured by Aunty Caleen
GOVERNOR’S PRESENTATION
ADJOURNMENT

Introduction:

It was noted that the lab received four (4) other upgraded computers donated by Gov. Wallen. Who in his opening remarks asked if there has been any dialogue regarding Dir. Walker or if there were any other development concerning the issue of differences between group members?
Apologies: Secretary Taylor apologized for the late start of meeting.
Topics for discussion: Gov. Wallen shared info from Head office, he informed the group that any member of the group found with any form of contraband would be sanctioned they would not be treated differently from the rest of the prison population. Acting Corporal English made a confirmed comment regarding that topic.

We had a debated discussion surrounding that issue as individual members took turns to comment on the topic. Members made suggestions and the group endorsed the ideas but was informed by the Gov. that those ideas would not be accepted by Head Office. Gov. Wallen made it clear that we should get to a space in order to command the attention of Authorities. He said he wanted to see the group improve on what we do at the Radio Station, Computer Room, Studio and other area as our actions were constantly monitored by Head Office. Authorities have taken a “0” tolerance approach towards their rules and regulation here. At that point Aunty Caleen made her assessment and said we would have to make a decision regarding the disciplinary actions that would be handed down if members were found to be in breach of the Regulations here in the prison.

Dir. Paulwell commented on the English classes and the importance of it, Gov.Wallen agreed with what was expressed concerning that issue because the grammatical flaws were being heard by the people who listen to the radio. Gov. Wallen also mentioned that an E-mail address could be arranged so listeners would be able to make their request and comments, this would help us in endeavors to improve and we would also get a feel of what society is saying. Gov. Wallen stated that whatever it is, we should put it on the paper and that all the people with portfolios should prepare plans to proceed forward and that the plans should be presented at the next meeting on the next SET chat for discussion. Deputy Dir. Clarke asked about the uniforms he was given an explanation on the matter. Governor Wallen in his closing remarks stated that we will be getting a visit from Professor Nessom from Hartford. An executive meeting was then set for next Monday May 19, 2008 at 11:30am. Meeting was then adjourned by V/P Davis and second by Engineer Barrett.

Tower Street Meeting Minutes May 14, 2008

May 14th, 2008 by David Sasaki

Minutes of meeting
Held on Wednesday May 14, 2008
AT TOWER STREET ADULT
CORRECTIONAL CENTRE SET CHAT ROOM
2-4 TOWER STREET KINGSTON

AGENDA
MEETING CALL TO ORDER
PRAYER
INTRODUCTION
OPENING COMMENTS
APOLOGIES
READING OF LAST MINUTES
AMENDMENTS
CONFIRMATION OF MINUTES
TOPICS FOR DISCUSSION…………
a. BIRTHDAYS, ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATIONS
b. PGI PRESENTATION
c. THOUGHT OF THE WEEK’
d. VOCABULARY WORD
DISCUSSION TOPIC
Featured by Aunty Caleen
GOVERNOR’S PRESENTATION
ADJOURNMENT

Prayer: was done by Dept. Chaplin Gayle

Introduction:

It was noted that the lab received four (4) other upgraded computers donated by Gov. Wallen. Who in his opening remarks asked if there has been any dialogue regarding Dir. Walker or if there were any other development concerning the issue of differences between group members?
Apologies: Secretary Taylor apologized for the late start of meeting.
Topics for discussion: Gov. Wallen shared info from Head office, he informed the group that any member of the group found with any form of contraband would be sanctioned and they would not be treated differently from the rest of the prison population. Acting Corporal English made a confirmed comment regarding that topic.

We had a debated discussion surrounding that issue as individual members took turns to comment on the topic. Members made suggestions and the group endorsed the ideas but was informed by Gov. Wallen that those ideas would not be accepted by Head Office. Gov. Wallen made it clear that we should get to a space in order to command the attention of Authorities. He said he wanted to see the group improve on what we do at the Radio Station, Computer Room, Studio and other area as our actions were constantly monitored by Head Office. Authorities have taken a zero tolerance approach towards their rules and regulation here. At that point Aunty Caleen made her assessment and said we would have to make a decision regarding the disciplinary actions that would be handed down if members were found to be in breach of the Regulations here in the prison.

Dir. Paulwell commented on the English classes and the importance of it, Gov.Wallen agreed with what was expressed concerning that issue because the grammatical flaws were being heard by the people who listen to the radio. Gov. Wallen also mentioned that an E-mail address could be arranged so listeners would be able to make their request and comments, this would help us in endeavors to improve and we would also get a feel of what society is saying. Gov. Wallen stated that whatever it is, we should put it on the paper and that all the people with portfolios should prepare plans to proceed forward and that the plans should be presented at the next meeting on the next SET chat for discussion. Deputy Dir. Clarke asked about the uniforms he was given an explanation on the matter. Governor Wallen in his closing remarks stated that we will be getting a visit from Professor Nessom from Hartford who would be at our next SET chat meeting on May 21st 2008. An executive meeting was then set for next Monday May 19, 2008 at 11:30am. Meeting was then adjourned by V/P Davis and second by Engineer Barrett.

Convicted without a Trial!

February 27th, 2008 by lecia-gaye gordon

Yesterday the biggest news to rock our small island was the slap of criminal charges on one of our youngest and most promising politicians – former Energy State Minister – and current Member of Parliament, Kern Spencer. Kern at age 33 was slapped with 7 charges: 

  • Three counts of conspiracy to defraud:
  • Breach of Section 14 (1) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, which addresses the role of government officials.
  • Money laundering offences: concealing and disguising criminal property (US$37, 836.65); transferring criminal property from Jamaica (US64, 576.50); engaging in a transaction with criminal property.

According to the Jamaica Gleaner reports, charged along with Spencer are Rodney Chin and Coleen Wright. Chin, a close associate of Spencer is facing two counts of conspiracy to defraud and two counts of breaches of the Prevention of Corruption Act. Wright, Spencer’s personal assistant, is also faced with 7 charges; two counts of conspiracy to defraud, one for breaching the Prevention of Corruption Act, and four money-laundering offences.

The charges slapped on the former State Minister, are as a result of the gross mismanagement that was discovered after a project involving the distribution of 4 million Free Cuban light bulbs resulted in $276 million in expenditure. The alert was made by the new energy minister Clive Mullings.

Now, what are the implications for these charges? And why am I so interested in this situation? Well, firstly, if convicted Kern could face up to 5 years in prison and millions of dollars in fines. This is interesting because it’s very rare that a Jamaican politician is held accountable for any of his atrocities. And it is arguable that had the PNP remained in power (they lost the general election after 18 years in power in September 2007); this gross mismanagement and now criminal involvement would never have come to light. So we are now forced to wonder, how many of these acts of blatant theft and gross mismanagement of funds have gone undiscovered? The truth is that we may never know!

This is interesting news to the Inmate Diaries blog because there is the general perception in Jamaica that the only persons in prison are those born and bred in poverty, lacking in education, social graces and whatever other tools necessary to put them on the plane to meaningful and purposeful activities. This is not so! Jamaican prisons, like any other prisons, have inmates from all differing backgrounds – individuals born in affluence and those in poverty. Therefore, this dispels the myth that only poor people commit crimes.

This is the issues that S.E.T Inmate Diaries would like to address. In telling the inmate’s stories, we hope to get a better understanding of what are the motivating factors behind crime. What is it that compels two completely different individuals from two starkly different backgrounds to commit an identical crime? Read the rest of this entry »

Tower Street Visit February 20!

February 22nd, 2008 by lecia-gaye gordon

 Being largely administrative, I haven’t been in at the correctional facilities for awhile. Kevin on the other hand has been a trooper visiting almost everyday and making reports. So it was time for me to go along and get feedback straight from the inmates.

Here is a report of what transpired on my visit to Jamaica’s maximun security facility!

Visiting Tower Street

 On Wednesday, I accompanied the Kevin to General Penitentiary. My visit has been long overdue since I haven’t been in the institutions for sometime. However, Kevin, Wayne and I were off to spend a couple of hours with the S.E.T group at Tower Street Correctional facility.

 We were ushered into the institutions – no delays this trip – and as anticipated I had to deal with the heckling and whistles from inmates. Thankfully, this no longer bothers me and we progressed directly to the S.E.T lab.  

At first, it seemed as we were going to meet with only a few men as the prison was abuzz with preparations for a concert to be had the following day. However, soon after we were informed that the concert had been postponed to March 6, 2008 and so we would be able to have a full gathering. This was good news because we had a lot to share with the group.  

Sports day coming!  

As soon as the meeting was convened the group eagerly told us about an upcoming football competition and domino tournament which they had been directed to oversee. The S.E.T group is widely respected within the institution and so when the institution’s superintendent thought of organizing a sports competition, he naturally called on S.E.T to organize and oversee the event. This was a welcome challenge by the group which already has in place a Director of Sports who quickly worked along with his committee to ensure that all goes well. It is enough to say that the event for March 1, 2008 has all fixtures in place and is ready to go!

 Training and bonding  

Having shared the good news it was time for S.E.T matters. Kevin expressed his desire to see the team undertake more activities as a group. He felt that was the process required to make the bonds stronger. He also expressed the desire for more training programmes to be in place. The core team of 18 pointed out that many of them had completed basic training in Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint) and Typing tutor however; they would begin a second phase of training that would allow others to catch up and then progress to a more challenging level. This process would be coordinated by the Education Director. The inmates expressed the following challenges: 

  • Computers need to be upgraded
  • Some of the computers were missing the required programmes
  • Need for a sound card

 The S.E.T group would also begin to make arrangements for the rising star and quiz competition projects.   Read the rest of this entry »

Slower Start than Expected…But Press Release is Ready to GO!

February 18th, 2008 by lecia-gaye gordon

I have been a bit disappointed because our project has been experiencing a slower start than anticipated. However, we are over that process and now we are ready to go!!! I am more than excited again. Starting tomorrow these press releases will be sent to all media houses locally and I will begin to organise interviews with all media houses. In addition, I have noted much interest in a weekly feature of our stories so we are now looking at our options.

So in my enthusiasm, let me share with you the first press release on SET Diaries to the world! Read the rest of this entry »