Food For The Poor Organizes Prisoner Releases Nonviolent Offenders Freed in Jamaica, Guyana, Haiti and Honduras

COCONUT CREEK, Fla. (Dec. 20, 2011) — In anticipation of Christmas, Food For The Poor released prisoners who have committed nonviolent offenses in Jamaica (22), Guyana (25), Haiti (36) and Honduras (2). They were incarcerated due to their inability to pay required fines. Eighty-five prisoners have been released in these countries in time to spend Christmas with their families.

“When you visit a prison, desperate eyes peer out of the dark cells, into the light, pleading silently for help,” said Robin Mahfood , Food For The Poor’s CEO/President. “They want to feel a connection with the outside world, to be a brother in Christ, to be prayed for – and to not be forgotten.”

In developing countries, the destitute sometimes have no way to feed their families other than to steal food. The consequence often is imprisonment without first appearing before a judge, or receiving a prison sentence. Sometimes, by the time they are tried, they have spent years longer in jail than their prison sentence requires.

Food For The Poor’s Prison Ministry Program is based on the scripture, “When was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you,” (Matthew 25: 31-46).

Mahfood visited a prison in Cap-Haitien, Haiti, this year with 17 priests and pastors. Together they prayed for the inmates, who live in decrepit buildings and are at the mercy of disease outbreaks, such as cholera. Prison cells measuring 16-by-16 feet sometimes hold more than 30 men.

Since the inception of Food For The Poor’s Prison Ministry Program in 2000, more than 1,048 prisoners have been reintroduced back into the community as productive citizens. Food For The Poor works with the prisoners before and after they are released to ensure they will not be repeat offenders.

“Behave yourself, because in there [it is] rough,” said a 34-year-old former Jamaican inmate, when asked if he had any advice for youngsters outside of the penal institutions. “I appreciate the help from Food For The Poor,” he continued, “because my mother had been helping to take care of my children while I was in there, but they are my responsibility and I just wanted to come out and be a father to them.”

This year in Jamaica, a total of 22 inmates were released from prisons in Mandeville, Spanish Town and St. Catherine.

“All of us deserve a second chance and we have given these men and women that opportunity,” said Sandra Ramsay, administrator of the prison ministry at Food For The Poor-Jamaica.

Twice a year – during the Christmas and Easter seasons – the Food For The Poor Prison Ministry Program releases inmates who have committed minor offenses. Prison authorities have found Food For The Poor’s Prison Ministry Program to be so successful that they have implemented a similar program themselves. Some prisons now offer inmates jobs in the prison where they are held so that they can earn money to pay off their fines.           

Food For The Poor, the largest international relief and development organization in the nation, does much more than feed millions of the hungry poor in 17 countries of the Caribbean and Latin America. This interdenominational Christian ministry provides emergency relief assistance, clean water, medicines, educational materials, homes, support for orphans and the aged, skills training and micro-enterprise development assistance, with more than 96 percent of all donations going directly to programs that help the poor.

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Jennifer Leigh Oates
Food For The Poor
Public Relations
954-427-2222 x 6054