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Prisons use cricket as rehab
The T&T Prisons Service teamed up with the local cricket board, and the umpires and scorers’ union for a historic initiative aimed at assisting in the rehabilitation of inmates.
On Monday, officials of the three bodies officially launched a unique Inmate Cricket Development Programme for “clients” of the Prisons Service, at the Maximum Security Prison Gymnasium in Arouca.
The event heralded a renewed partnership between the T&T Prisons Service, the T&T Cricket Board, the T&T Umpires and Scorers’ Council, and the T&T Prisons Service cricket team.
This initiative provides the opportunity for quality training in coaching and umpiring techniques for both inmates and officers. Prisons Officers who are expected to take a leading role, participated in the two-day workshop held at the Prisons Sports Club, May 22- 24 as a precursor for the newly launched programme.
The latest effort is directly linked to the rehabilitative thrusts of the Prisons Service as it seeks to empower inmates with marketable skills, and the opportunities for employment when they are released.
Additionally, the skills acquired would be initially honed through the Inter-station Cricket Competition of the Prisons Service for inmates.
Among those who attended the function were Dudnath Ramkessoon, Cricket Operations Officer of the T&TCB; Parasram Singh, president of the T&T Umpires and Scorers’ Union; Shaheed Allaham, vice-president of the T&TSCU; Elite ICC umpire Joel Wilson, and his top local colleague Danesh Ramdanie.
Also present was Deputy Commissioner of Prisons (Administration) Dennis Pulchan who wholeheartedly endorsed the development initiative.
“The sport of cricket will go a long way in re-tooling inmates in their focus in life, just as one needs to focus in order to win at cricket. Similarly, if this focus is applied to their lives, it would be of great benefit to them, their families and their communities,” said DCP Pulchan.
Ramkessoon, who represented the T&T Cricket Board, commended the Prisons Service for its willingness to inculcate cricket into their rehabilitative process of inmates.
“This is an opportunity for inmates to get involved in the game of cricket which can provide an income for them for the rest of their lives. This is a great programme facilitated by the Cricket Board, Umpires and Scorers’ Union and the Prisons Service,” said Ramkessoon, a former national senior team, and West Indies Youth captain.
Umpires and Scorers’ Union head Singh expressed his appreciation to Commissioner of Prisons Gerard Wilson for his embrace of the idea. “Commissioner Wilson immediately acceptive the proposal to train inmates in umpiring as he saw how this could impact positively on the lives of the participants in the post-release period of their lives,” said Singh.
He stressed the umpiring courses will boost the efforts of the Prisons Service, especially in the field of conflict resolution, a failure of which is the main reason why inmates are incarcerated.
“Our programme will train participants to become highly qualified, using top umpires as they will be able to sit the exams and based on their performances, and will get the opportunity to move up the ladder and eventually reach national, regional and international status and become gainfully employed and re-integrated in society,” said Singh.
He said initially the T&TUCU will provide facilitators and trainers for the programme, but it is hoped that in due course Prisons Officers who reach the required level will take over the responsibilities of the programme curriculum.
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