Home for Christmas: Food For The Poor Pays Fines of 146 Nonviolent Offenders
COCONUT CREEK, Fla. (Dec. 21, 2022) A total of 146 nonviolent prisoners will be home for Christmas, thanks to Food For The Poor (FFTP) and the generous donors who support the charity’s prison ministry.
For more than two decades, 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 the Caribbean and Latin America, unable to pay the fines for their release.
- In Haiti, 140 prisoners were released from six different prisons located in the northern and central part of the country beginning Dec. 14 and continuing through today.
- In Jamaica, four prisoners were released on Dec. 15.
- In Guyana, two prisoners were released on Monday.
“Food For The Poor’s Prison Ministry began 24 years ago with paying the fines of nonviolent offenders twice a year, at Easter and Christmas, but this year has been especially challenging because of the crisis in Haiti and a cholera outbreak,” FFTP President/CEO Ed Raine said. “But thanks to our very compassionate donors, we were blessed to continue this annual tradition and provide hundreds of people with the priceless gift of a second chance for Christmas.”
In Haiti, poverty, civil unrest, and gang violence have taken a toll on the Caribbean nation, making day-to-day living nearly impossible for destitute families. The inmates who were released each received a hot meal and drink, a bag of rice to take home, and money to cover travel expenses to get home.
In addition to paying the fines for nonviolent offenders, FFTP also is providing regular distribution of rice, beans and MannaPack rice meals to the severely crowded main prison in Port-au-Prince, at the request of the government. The charity also is assisting with repairing the prison’s water system and propane system used for cooking in the kitchen.
In Jamaica, each newly freed person received a food package and travel money to return home.
In this video, Sandra Ramsey, longtime manager of the Prison Ministry for FFTP-Jamaica, talks about the history of the program and how it began: youtu.be/TCLzLarcHPM
One of the released inmates in Jamaica expressed gratitude to FFTP because he was able to be home for his family’s annual gathering on Dec. 15. Charged with uttering false documents, the man was sentenced to 30 days in prison.
While he regrets his crimes, he said he learned his lesson. His advice to young people: “It is better if you keep trying the right way and not the illegal way because whatever you do will come back to you,” he said. “There is always a penalty, whether to you or your children and the next generation.”
At a ceremony for the inmates’ release in Guyana, FFTP-Guyana CEO Kent Vincent encouraged the prisoners to pray and work hard. Food hampers including lunch, loaves of bread, personal care items and a Bible were given to the inmates.
“Mistakes happen, but (the prisoners) should set their lives in order, let God be the focus of their lives, and always show the kindness they received from Food For The Poor to others,” Vincent said.
Stephenson, 22, explained that he worked on the sea, and life was hard taking care of his younger brother. He is thankful for a second chance and promised that he will be a better person.
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# 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, 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.