Ex-convicts Deserve Better
The Caribbean Is One Nation.
The recent exposure of the dehumanizing conditions, in which an ex-convict is forced to live, in Barbados, deserves our comment. The ex-convict, now forty-six years old, was released from prison after spending twenty-nine years for murder. This means that he committed this horrible act at the age of seventeen. He would have also spent many years on death row, during this period.
We believe that citizens who have been punished for crimes they committed should be allowed to function normally, when they period of punishment has been completed. This citizen, has been forced to live in an abandoned car, he shared with a variety of rodents. He eventually secured a small piece of land, due to the generosity of a caring older woman, that he de-bushed and embarked on an agriculture project, growing a number of food crops, which he sold as a source of income. He eventually built a small wooden house on the property.
However, a series of unfortunate events soon befell him, including the malicious destruction of his extremely modest dwellings by fire. He is now forced to live in a shack/tent contraption while the police and other state agencies appear unconcerned of his plight. It is even more heart wrenching that he has been informed that he may even have to surrender the land. Additionally, he is convinced that neighbors know the identity of the arsonist who destroyed his house. Not yet completely broken, he continues to plant his crops.
While we most certainly do not condone criminal activity, we cannot turn a blind eye to the way those who have paid their price to society are ruthlessly made to pay another price by being ostracized and given little hope of readjusting after release from penal institutions.
In cases such as this, especially when the victim of this ostracization, is obviously trying to find his way, in a positive manner, we urge the broader society, including his immediate family, to find their humanity, strength of forgiveness and often expressed devotion to Christianity, to extend a helping hand. It is a known fact that even those who have lived a crime free existence cannot comprehend all the changes that the society has undergone, in the last three decades. Imagine a young man of seventeen “returning” from prison, almost at the age of fifty!
Having survived prison for such a lengthy period, this ex-con, has stated that he prefers to “die in the street like a dog” rather than return there. He has vowed not to engage in any further crime but wonders if by the treatment it is giving him, society hopes to put him back on such a path.
The Mahogany Coconut Group knows, with great certainty, that this experience is lived by hundreds of our regional citizens, who are repeatedly forced to overcompensate for their crimes. We urge governments to systematically embark, on modern programs of rehabilitation thereby reducing recidivism among our ex-convict population. We need all citizens to be productive and treated fairly in our democratic societies and these must include those who have paid their price for criminal activity.
They certainly must not be forced to live with or be treated like rodents or expected to live in the shells of abandoned cars and dilapidated shacks deprived of basic human comforts such as water and basic latrine facilities.