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Sport and prison reform in T&T

Published: 
Monday, June 25, 2018

The ‘Inmate Cricket Development Programme’ is an applaudable initiative in principle of the Prisons Service, the T&T Cricket Board (TTBC) and the T&T Umpires and Scorers’ Union to use sport as a prisoner reform tool.

It has been stated by some scholars and practitioners that sport is a useful tool for enabling positive social development and benefits to participants. However, it is important for the proposed programme to be part of an overall strategic plan for effective prisoner reform.

As such it will be advisable for the programme coordinators to review the positive and negative lessons from the ‘Hoop of Life’ programme which was an attempt to use basketball as a means of keeping persons living in ‘hot spot’ areas away from engaging in criminal activity.

In addition to reviewing the ‘Hoop of Life’ programme (assuming comprehensive formal reports are available) as well as research such as Gallant, Nicholson and Sherry 2014 and Meek 2014, the following general points should also be taken into consideration:

• A strategic plan with SMART goals and objectives

• An implementation plan with identifiable targets

• A monitoring and evaluation system to objectively determine whether or not the programme goals and objectives are being achieved

• Trained human resource personnel to deliver the programme at all stages.

• An understanding of the target group in terms of age and interests. Such knowledge can inform the best pedagogical approach(es) to be utilised.

• Availability of financial resources and advocacy to support the programme as part of a larger reform programme.

The absence of a strategic approach to using sport as a prisoner reform tool will be nothing more than evangelic commentary. Emphasis has to be placed on the planning, implementation and monitoring and evaluation stages to ensure that the T&T Prisons ‘Inmate Cricket Development Programme’ has all the organisational capacity to have the opportunity to be successful.

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