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Jan 13, 1998

Hosts of a radio show help women prisoners

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Life behind the fence at Hattieville prison is a frequent topic on this newscast, but it is not often that we send our cameras into the section reserved for those convicted criminals who happen to be female. This weekend News Five’s Patrick Jones and Wilson Pat made the journey…as guests of a group of radio broadcasters who believe that their duty does not end when the microphones are switched off.

For most of these women the cold gray walls of Hattieville Prison have defined the word home for more years than they care to count. But at some point virtually all of these prisoners will be free … and it?s with that day in mind that a new program was created by a group of women outside the walls. The initiative is called Women’s Mission and is the brainchild of the producers of the “Women’s Round Table” radio program.

Virginia Echols, Co-Host, Women’s Round Table

“Women need attention and there is a special kind of attention that women need especially when they have become adults and when they are incarcerated like this, there are certain needs that they have that they can’t really share. So when we decide to do this Women’s Mission, we decide that the best thing to do is to become their friend, their spiritual partner. Not necessarily religious partner or prayer partner, but spiritually we try to meet what their needs are.”

Needs, which include contact with their family and loved ones and in some cases, an overwhelming desire to make up for the mistakes they’ve made in life. That is why when the idea to enhance the rehabilitation process was suggested, it was welcomed with open arms by the management of the prisons department.

Wayne Moody, Director of Programs, Prisons Department

“The one currently with the women’s round table has been somewhat very motivational one where the women have been coming in and talking with the women and encouraging them … Have you seen a marked change in the attitude of the women since a program like this started? Well there has been some marked improvement. There is room for more improvement but the fact that there are people coming in supporting specifically the social organizations coming in and giving support, people have been showing interest in them and that has been part of the process of seeing change where people realize that they do have people who care.”

There are currently twenty eight women incarcerated at the Hattieville Prison. Ordinarily these ladies would spend their day just being idle. But the producers of the Women’s Round Table are doing their utmost to ensure that these idle brains do not become the devil’s workshop.

Yvette White – Co-host, “Women’s Round Table”

“And we are trying hard to teach the ladies the principles of doing things for themselves. Working with your hands because the problem is with these ladies, they done confined and the public has a tendency to hold this against them and we are teaching them the most important thing, if you could do it for yourself you have no problem, at least you have a start because you could work with your hands.”

Wayne Moody

“With the most recent initiative in partnership with the Women’s Round Table, we are looking at the women becoming more productive, doing things that will cause them to earn something for themselves, also improving their own self esteem and dignity and so that when they leave from here, they will be ready to re-entry back into the society.”

Theo Polonio – Motivational Speaker

“A lot of the ladies are in here for whatever reason Patrick. They have to come out and they have to deal with society and if we can do anything to help them, prepare themselves, to build their self esteem, to help them to set goals, would be a wonderful thing and in that way we could keep them from coming back in here and just being a statistic all the time.”

And if success is to be measured by enthusiasm, then the Women’s Mission has already passed cleanly over the first hurdle. They see it as an opportunity to make use of their time behind bars, knowing that the fruits of their labour are to be enjoyed in the future.

Geraldine Cain – Inmate

“I see it good because it keeps a lot of these females occupied because majority of the times when there is nothing to do there is a lot of frustrations. So by doing these stuff by the help of the Round Table, they are occupying a lot of their time and its a great result.”

Lydia Spain – Inmate

“When I come out I just want be somebody. I just no want go be the same person that I used to be. I have my pa out there, I have my family out there, but like them no care for me. I say maybe because of the drugs I used to smoke an like I let them down, but then they could forgive me, because I da noh the same person.”

Aloma Pike – Inmate

“I’m gonna make a goal to do the right thing and to walk the right way, because, when you’re living out there and you don’t have goals, you don’t have anything, you go back to the same thing and not only drugs, more than drugs, because not only drugs have me here, its ‘other else things besides drugs.”

Geraldine Cain – Inmate

“I won’t promise anyone else, but I’ll promise myself not to be back here and I will look forward to the difference in myself. So I wish all these females would do the same.”

But not all the women share Cain’s point of view and are not exactly knocking themselves out to get with the program, as some of the ideas and promises being thrown around sound awfully familiar.

Glennis Coote – Inmate

“Cause you have people come in here and tell we yow, we wa help unu build unu self estemm, wi wa mek unu do do dis, we wan mek unu do betta, wen unu come out we wa have jab fu unu, for instance me, I had wa lady weh promise me no wory bout nothin Glenis Coote wen you cum out we have wa job wen yo get, when I get da the lady you know weh the lady look pan me a tell me, who you I no know you.”

Virginia Echols

“Most times when people get out of prison they don’t have any funds. They don’t have anywhere to go but if they have some type of monetary thing to start their life all over again, then its a help, they don’t have to get out of prison and start all over again, because then that is when they get involved with this vicious cycle that everybody talks about. You are a product of your environment and you get back into the same environment and it starts all over again.”

The craft works that are produced by the women will be sold in Belize City by those willing to lend a helping hand to their fallen sisters.

The women who are behind bars here at Hattieville will tell you that life in prison is no piece of cake. But if the program initiated by the producers of the Women’s Round Table is half as successful as they are hoping, their emergence back into society will be a whole lot easier. Patrick Jones, for News Five.

The crafts produced in prison will eventually be sold in Belize city at the Bridgefoot. Women’s Round Table can be heard every Tuesday night at 7:30 on Radio Krem.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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