by Curlan Campbell
- Adult & Teen Challenge programme housed at Good Hope, St Paul’s
- 60-70% of male prisoners at Richmond Hill between 19-35 years
- Over 80% of repeat inmates affected by drug and alcohol-related problems
A radical new plan to keep young men away from prison enters a new phase of implementation following its launch on 3 July 2019.
The Adult & Teen Challenge drug and alcohol prevention and rehabilitation programme will be housed at Good Hope, St Paul’s, where a building will be transformed into a youth skills training and counselling centre.
Prompting this initiative are the worrying statistics at the Richmond Hill prison, where between 60-70% of male prisoners are between 19-35 years; the prison population is over 300, and the recidivism rate is over 60%. Over 80% of the repeat inmates are affected by drug and alcohol-related problems. The nonprofit faith-based organisation affiliated with Global Teen Challenge had almost completed a 9-month rehabilitation programme of 20 inmates receiving discipleship training, mentoring and psychological services, when Covid-19 interrupted.
Executive Director of Adult & Teen Challenge Grenada, Jude Hector, wants to start the intervention much earlier in an attempt to prevent young men from having to go to prison. Hector stated that the programme would cater to the holistic development of young people seeking help. He said this would be a major undertaking that requires professionals from varying backgrounds who can assist in the rehabilitation of at-risk youth. “We have professionals from various backgrounds on board, but of course we are also looking for more people too because this is a major undertaking requiring a multi-stakeholder, multi-discipline approach. We are looking for counsellors, vocational skills trainers, individuals willing to volunteer for after school care, adult literacy, business training and more. We also will couple those with some practical skills like farming and rearing of animals.”
Assisting young people to develop their business ideas and receive financial and other technical support will also be a major focus for this project. “For example, we took a few skilled young men to meet with GIDC representatives where they received ideas and support to expand their respective businesses,” he said.
Referring to the issues facing young men, in particular, Hector said the problem can be traced back to dysfunctional families. “We continue to see a weakened family structure. We see a society where the men, in particular, are not shouldering the responsibility to be men who understand their God-given identity. The reality is if you know who you are as a man, then you understand how a man is supposed to function. Men are supposed to protect, guide, provide for and nurture their children. Because we have lost that to varying degrees, we see men have abandoned the family, especially the children to the point where we have a generation that is growing up without that strong male influence.”
Another component of the Adult & Teen Challenge will be to establish a small group programme for those who are at risk of drug and alcohol addictions. That will include providing periodic meals to those in most need. “The aim is to build relationships with the communities so that we can understand the critical needs and provide support at different levels. We encourage youths who just want to come into a positive environment to feel free to do so. Instead of going on the blocks, they can come here and find a friend and have a nutritious meal,” he said.
As part of the ongoing intervention programme at the prison, Hector is also assisting with the Mpower Programme which is administered by the Ministry of Youth Development, Sports, Culture and the Arts. It offers self-empowerment and skills certification to males between 18-35 years.
Project Officer, Davidson Paul, understands firsthand the issues facing young men since he too was a victim of these circumstances that ultimately led to him serving an 11-year sentence at the prison for capital murder. While serving his sentence, Paul led the education programme, where he taught CXC classes and general education. He worked in the rehabilitation unit, which organised sporting and cultural activities. Paul said since being in charge of the education programme at the prison, he noticed that 90% of inmates who took their skills training seriously did not return to prison after completing their sentence. “The people who enrol and complete, we have maybe 1 out of 10 who may return to prison. Apart from that, those who did not value education are the ones that return to prison. My time at the prison has shown me that there are a lot of young men and women that need help, most of whom are high school dropouts.”
Paul is giving back to the community by being an advocate for change. He is responsible for teaching young men and women how to set up and operate their small business. He also teaches young people the art of marketing their skills and their products.
For more information contact the office at 435-2824, mobile 410-4673 or via email at [email protected].