Holy Week Tradition Lives On: FFTP Pays Fines for Nearly 200 Nonviolent Offenders
COCONUT CREEK, Fla. (April 14, 2022) Extreme overcrowding and the lack of access to adequate food, water and health care are among the inhumane conditions that prisoners in countries helped by Food For The Poor must endure, often for many years.
Many people imprisoned for stealing to feed their families and committing minor crimes are unable to pay the fines required for their release.
In Haiti, FFTP paid the fines of 182 men and women from 10 different prisons in Arcahaie, Titanyen, Hinche, Cap-Haitien, Fort Liberté I & II, Gonaives, Grande Rivière, Mirebalais and Saint-Marc.
In July 2020, 16-year-old student Gladisse was arrested for a crime committed by her brother, who stole the equivalent of $1,000 from a neighbor’s shop. On April 6, FFTP paid the fine for her release, and now she is determined to restart her young life again.
“I’m delighted to be free today. Thanks to Food For The Poor for all the good things that are going to happen in my life. I’ll be able to finish my studies, start a career and earn some money,” Gladisse said. “I hope Food For The Poor continues to help people who have no one else to turn to.”
Jean, a father of 16 children, was detained in his hometown of Port-de-Paix following a failed land acquisition and sentenced to 12 years in prison at the Morne Casse jail in Fort Liberté II.
A tuberculosis patient, whose health has been deteriorating, Jean expressed his gratitude to FFTP.
“This independence will enable me to better manage my health,” he said. “Because of you, I am free, a better tomorrow awaits me. Thank you for thinking about those incarcerated. I shall be eternally grateful for your unwavering support.”
This year, a 19-year-old first-time offender from Jamaica was one of two nonviolent inmates released from the St. Catherine Adult Correctional Centre in time for Easter Holy Week. He was detained and arrested for violating curfew and driving without a license. He was imprisoned for nearly three months after he was unable to pay the fine.
With sincerity in his eyes and gratitude on his heart, the young inmate thanked FFTP and its donors.
“If I could see you, I would hug you,” he said. “You have made my day. You have made my entire life. As simple as it is, I have been longing to go outside. The plan after leaving is to continue raising goats and get some training to become a certified tiler. You have changed my life.”
In Guyana, FFTP paid the fines for three nonviolent prisoners who were imprisoned for minor offenses and were unable to pay the fines required for their release.
Lionel, a 37-year-old father of three, was sentenced to four weeks in prison for littering. He was overcome with emotion upon his release and expressed his gratitude to FFTP.
“I’m glad to be home for the Easter holidays so I can make kites for my kids,” he said.
“I thank God for Food For The Poor and for answering my prayers,” said Damion, a 50-year-old inmate sentenced to two months in prison for shoplifting.
The prisoners took part in a simple ceremony at the Prison Service Headquarters before their release.
Kent Vincent, CEO of FFTP-Guyana, encouraged the prisoners by reading a few verses from Isaiah 42. He went on to say that they should organize their lives, make God the center of their attention and always return the kindness they received from FFTP to others.
“Life in prison is not easy and, in the countries where Food For The Poor works, prisons can be dangerous and sometimes deadly environments for inmates. It is why the training and reintegration of nonviolent prisoners back into the community as productive citizens is so critical,” Ed Raine, CEO/President of Food For The Poor said. “This organization condemns criminal behavior, but it’s a terrible thing for someone to spend years in prison for a petty crime simply because they cannot afford to pay their jail fines.”
After the release ceremonies, each man and woman received a Holy Bible, a change of clothes, personal care items, food, and a monetary gift to help with transportation back home.
Since its inception in 1998, the FFTP Prison Ministry Program has aided in the release, training, and reintegration of nonviolent prisoners into their communities as productive citizens during the Christmas and Easter Holy Week seasons.
To support Food For The Poor’s Prison Ministry Program, checks payable to Food For The Poor can be mailed to 6401 Lyons Road, Coconut Creek, FL 33073. Please include reference number “SC# 74122” to ensure your donation is correctly routed or make an online donation at www.FoodForThePoor.org/prisoners.
Food For The Poor, one of the largest international relief and development organizations in the nation, does much more than feed millions of hungry children and families living in poverty primarily in 17 countries of the Caribbean and Latin America. This interdenominational Christian ministry provides emergency relief assistance, clean water, medicine, educational materials, homes, support for vulnerable children, care for the aged, skills training and micro-enterprise development assistance. For more information, please visit www.FoodForThePoor.org.