Food For The Poor’s Prison Ministry Program: Bringing Hope and Redemption This Holiday Season
COCONUT CREEK, Fla. (Dec. 21, 2023) – This Christmas, 242 nonviolent prisoners will experience the joy of freedom, all thanks to Food For The Poor (FFTP) and the compassionate donors who have steadfastly supported the charity’s prison ministry program.
For over two decades, FFTP has been committed to transforming lives and fostering hope by facilitating the release of nonviolent offenders, providing them a second chance to rebuild their lives.
FFTP has honored the tradition of securing the release of nonviolent offenders by paying their accumulated fines twice a year, at Christmas and Easter.
Many were arrested for stealing to feed their families or for something that would be considered a minor offense and later held in some of the most notorious prisons throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, unable to pay the fines for their release.
“At Food For The Poor, we believe in the power of redemption and the inherent dignity of every human being,” FFTP President/CEO Ed Raine said.
“Our prison ministry program is not just about paying fines. It’s about restoring hope and offering a path to redemption for those who have made mistakes,” Raine added. “By reuniting these individuals with their families during the holiday season, we aim to inspire positive change and break the cycle of poverty and despair.”
- In Haiti, 237 prisoners were released from six different prisons located in the northern and central part of the country between Nov. 9 and Nov. 15.
- In Jamaica, four prisoners were released on Dec. 13.
- In Guyana, one prisoner was released on Dec. 18.
Herline, a native of Terrier-Rouge, Haiti, with three children, was admitted to Cap-Haitien civil prison in November 2021, accused of stealing four basins. Initially she was expected to be imprisoned briefly, but her stay was extended to two years, and she lacked legal representation.
In Haiti, poverty, civil unrest, and gang violence have taken a toll, making day-to-day living nearly impossible for destitute families in the Caribbean country. The released inmates each received a hot meal and drink, rice, beans, and canned fish to take home, and money to cover travel expenses to get home.
When Herline was released on Nov. 10 because of the intervention of the Prison Release Ministry, she expressed her gratitude to FFTP. She hopes the charity will continue to assist other prisoners in similar situations.
In Jamaica, each newly freed person received a food package and travel money to return home.
One of the inmates released was a 47-year-old operator of an aluminum fabrication business. Charged with fraudulent conversion, he began serving a nine-month sentence on Oct. 4 because he could not afford to pay a $200,000 fine.
“I prayed about this moment from the first night I spent here,” he said. “It was on the concrete. I woke up like every 20 minutes. Your hand is your pillar. The floor is cold, and you are wondering about your safety. That sleepless night brings you to a point where you must pray. Prayer works.”
The former inmate said he is happy to be reunited with his family and to get back to earning an honest living.
“I am going back to complete the unfinished jobs I had out there,” he said. “My children are my motivation.”
In a ceremony at the Prison Service Headquarters in Guyana, FFTP-Guyana CEO Kent Vincent said the charity has a heart for people.
“We believe that when individuals are incarcerated, especially for minor offenses, they deserve a second chance,” Vincent said. “This is an opportunity for you to do good for others, and I hope you make the right decisions going forward.”
Augustine, who was imprisoned for a minor offense of larceny and his inability to pay the required fines, expressed gratitude to FFTP for the chance to celebrate Christmas with his family, particularly with his son. After the ceremony, he received a hamper containing personal care items, a Bible, and a loaf of bread.
Prison Welfare Officer Dawn Summers said she is optimistic that the Guyana Prison Service’s training programs will help with Augustine’s rehabilitation and lead to better decision-making in the future.
To support FFTP’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# 074122” to ensure your donation is correctly routed or make an online donation here.
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 Latin America and the Caribbean. This interdenominational Christian ministry provides emergency relief assistance, 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 FoodForThePoor.org.