I have been a bit disappointed because our project has been experiencing a slower start than anticipated. However, we are over that process and now we are ready to go!!! I am more than excited again. Starting tomorrow these press releases will be sent to all media houses locally and I will begin to organise interviews with all media houses. In addition, I have noted much interest in a weekly feature of our stories so we are now looking at our options.
So in my enthusiasm, let me share with you the first press release on SET Diaries to the world!
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 18, 2008
Jamaican Inmates Tell Their Stories on International Blog
How valuable is your freedom? Imagine having to request permission to take a shower, purchase an item or even take a walk. This is life behind bars. The S.E.T. (Students Expressing Truth) Foundation has been awarded a grant by Global Voices international to compile and release its Inmate Diaries blog. This blog will be published at sset.wordpress.com and http://rising.globalvoicesonline.org/prison-diaries/ respectively and will candidly tell the stories of individuals who have been incarcerated for varying degrees of crime.
Described as “phenomenal” by distinguished Harvard law professor Charles Nesson, S.E.T’s Inmate Diaries project will provide an opportunity for the public to hear the convicts’ side of the story. The blog will publish inmates’ stories of their social, economic and general living conditions before they became involved in the events which led to their conviction. It will also address the inmates’ experiences in prison and their attitude towards the punishment they receive. S.E.T Diaries will chronicle the stories of inmates after they have been released in order to ascertain what keeps them out of crimes or compels them to return to it. It is hoped that the Inmates Diaries blog will become a leading resource for criminology studies within the Caribbean as well as for all local projects which aim to address the subject of rehabilitation.
Kevin Wallen, Director of S.E.T, expressed his enthusiasm for this project as he strongly argues that the approach towards rehabilitation in Jamaica and other Caribbean countries often fails because those who consider themselves ‘experts’ have no real insight into the lives and experiences of convicts. He noted that the S.E.T approach to rehabilitation has been successful “with 0% recidivism as opposed to the national rate of 25% largely because of the difference in approach towards restorative justice and rehabilitation.”
The Inmate Diaries blog will be informative and comprehensive covering experiences of inmates from maximum security facilities such as Tower Street and South Camp to the female only correctional facility at Fort Augusta. The inmates will be actively involved in the process of telling their own stories as they will employ the training received through the S.E.T project to conduct interviews among themselves and to provide edited video and audio clips, photographs and written experiences which will be uploaded by S.E.T volunteers.
Project Coordinator, Lecia-Gaye Gordon, argues that the Inmate Diaries is a “critical part of the rehabilitation process as inmates receive the opportunity to talk about and purge themselves of all the negative experiences that have led them to this point in their lives.” She insists that “far from being a glorification of criminals as some might argue the telling of stories have been therapeutic for many inmates who have now come to a realization and acceptance of the crimes they have committed.”
The Inmate Diaries proposal was submitted to Global Voices, a non-profit global citizens’ media project founded at Harvard Law
Berkman Center for Internet and Society, a research think-tank focused on the Internet’s impact on society and was one of 40 projects selected from hundreds received. S.E.T (Students Expressing Truth) is a nongovernmental organization under the auspices of the Department of Correctional Services and has been actively involved in the rehabilitation process since 1999. S.E.T focuses primarily on rehabilitation through technology and has taught inmates competitive skills such as audio and video production which many have successfully employed upon their reintegration into society.
In recognition of S.E.T’s success in its correctional facilities, the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) in 2004 entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the S.E.T Foundation Limited in order to bring rehabilitation into the 21st Century. DCS has committed to supporting the establishment of Information Technology training programs, and to endorse S.E.T projects and fundraising.
The Inmate Diaries Project is a monumental step towards the change in approach to rehabilitation that needs to be encouraged and supported by both the Jamaican and international communities.
CONTACT:Lecia-Gaye Gordon Project Coordinator Fax: 960-1715 E-Mail: email@example.com