Rights group worried inmates won’t get Christmas visits

December 08, 2020

This Christmas, inmates in correctional facilities will not benefit from the usual visits from their family and friends because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Stand Up For Jamaica (SUFJ) says this may cause widespread loneliness and fatigue among them, especially juveniles.

"We have around 70 juveniles, roughly 120 females and call it 450 males. These are the persons involved in the rehabilitation programme. So they are attending the school and that kinda stuff. Those people are the ones that decided to start the rehabilitation path, in order for them to go back to society and be better people," Carla Gullotta, SUFJ's executive director told THE STAR.

The inmates have not been getting family visits, and this means no food, no clothes and no money to spend at the canteens.


"Loneliness has been affecting inmates, especially juveniles, children between 12 and 18 who miss their families and feel the lack of interaction with them. Families are also affected by the lack of contact with their beloved relatives," she said. Gullotta said Jamaicans should not forget the prisoners during the festive season.

"Christmas is around the corner and Stand Up For Jamaica does not wish to leave anybody behind. We therefore have decided to provide, with the consent of DCS (Department of Correctional Services), some Christmas gifts to the inmates and we are preparing little surprise packages to children in custody. We will send cakes, muffins, toiletries, small towels to show that they are not forgotten during Christmas," she said. "Last report from children agencies has highlighted the dramatic increase of violence among wards. Juveniles need guidance and isolation is contributing to create traumas."

The organisation is also asking the public to make donations, urging them not to vilify these prisoners.

"They have done something wrong. They have to pay for the mistakes they have made, and they are paying for it. We don't want to penalise then furthermore, and they are still human beings, who have been locked away since mid-March, not seeing anybody. They are left behind," Gullotta said.

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