Food For The Poor Releases Nonviolent Prisoners Jamaica, Guyana, Haiti and Honduras

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Food For The Poor has released 68 prisoners who have committed nonviolent offenses in four countries.
Seventeen prisoners were released from St. Catherine Adult Correctional Centre in Spanish Town, Jamaica, on Dec. 10.

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COCONUT CREEK, Fla. (Dec. 22, 2014) – Food For The Poor has released 68 prisoners who have committed nonviolent offenses in Jamaica, Guyana, Haiti and Honduras in time to spend Christmas with their families. The nonviolent prisoners were incarcerated due to their inability to pay required fines.

“There are large numbers of desperate people who are locked in jail that have been forgotten because they stole whatever they could to try to feed their hungry families,” said Robin Mahfood, Food For The Poor’s President/CEO. “It is a serious situation. The Gospel message strengthens and reminds us to give a hand up to others who dwell in darkness.”

Seventeen prisoners were released from St. Catherine Adult Correctional Centre in Spanish Town, Jamaica, on Dec. 10. One of the inmates was a 45-year-old barber from Kingston, Jamaica. On Dec. 9, bailiffs took him from his shop because he had breached the Debtors Act, an offense that warrants 14 days in prison. As a barber, and the father of three, he found it difficult to continue to pay the back-log in rent when his business slowed. One of his last payments was made in November.

“It happened so quickly, I was not even allowed to call or talk to anyone,” said the inmate. “When I came here, I begged an officer for a call and contacted my wife and explained the situation. I begged her not to tell my children, especially my daughter in high school, because it would devastate her.

“I prayed the whole night because I am the breadwinner for the family and I didn’t know what was going to happen to them. I said ‘God, is this a trial that You are putting me through to make me develop, or is this a way to teach me a lesson? I know You are real, and You have never failed me yet’.”

Call it a Christmas miracle, but by morning the inmate’s prayer had been answered. Food For The Poor’s Prison Ministry team had intervened and paid the nonviolent prisoners’ outstanding fines, granting them an early release. 

“People ask how I am so lucky, but I know God is powerful. I know He answered my prayer by sending angels this morning,” said the inmate. “I know that God was going to take care of me. Water came to my eyes this morning in the chapel when the gentlemen from Food For The Poor said that we must give the gift of forgiveness to our enemies and that is what I plan to do.” 

On Dec. 16, nine nonviolent prisoners were offered second chances when they were released from three prisons in Guyana. One of the prisoners celebrated his 42nd birthday the same day he was unexpectedly released from prison.

“I am very thankful and grateful to Food For The Poor,” said the inmate, who plans to return to work as a welder. “It is a blessing to me since today is my birthday. I wish you all the best. God bless you all. It was a pleasant surprise to me.”

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.

Prison conditions are drastically worse in developing countries than they are in the United States. Overcrowded prisons are common, and perpetuate the spread of disease and violence. The potential spread of cholera in Haiti’s prisons remains a concern.

Twice a year – during the Christmas and Easter seasons – it is a Food For The Poor tradition to release nonviolent inmates who have been incarcerated due to their inability to pay the required fines for committing minor offenses.

Since the inception of Food For The Poor’s Prison Ministry Program in 1998, the charity has assisted in freeing, training and reintroducing prisoners back into the community as productive citizens.

Food For The Poor’s Prison Ministry Program is based on the scripture, “…I was in prison and you visited me,” (Matthew 25: 36b).

To support Food For The Poor’s Prison Ministry Program, checks payable to Food For The Poor can be mailed to 6401 Lyons Road, Coconut Creek, Fla. 33073. Please include reference number “SC# 74122” to ensure your donation is correctly routed.

Food For The Poor, named by The Chronicle of Philanthropy as 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 95 percent of all donations going directly to programs that help the poor. For more information, please visit www.FoodForThePoor.org.

Jennifer Leigh Oates

Food For The Poor
Public Relations Associate
954-427-2222 x 6054
jennifero@foodforthepoor.com