Letters to the Editor

Conjugal visits could benefit inmates and our country

Friday, August 11, 2017

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Dear Editor,

Robert Montague, minister of national security, has once again caused tongues to be wagging with his announcement that his ministry is considering allowing conjugal visits for some prisoners, when he spoke at the Jamaica 55 Diaspora Conference recently.

I support the minister on this one, and I believe people can be reformed. In fact, incorporating conjugal visits into our prison systems could be used as a reform programme.

Many countries, including Germany, Australia, Brazil, and even the US, practise conjugal visits, but not in their federal prisons. I say that to say, conjugal visits are common practice in many First-World countries.

In fact, when I worked in China as an English tutor I realised how much effort China pays to implementing the principles of humanitarianism. Criminals are not only provided with proper living conditions, but their human dignity is also respected. The Chinese don't just punish criminals, instead they emphasise reform and change for the better.

We need to pay attention to our inmates and emphasise on treating them like humans despite the crimes they've committed.

With feasible rules and regulations, implementing conjugal visits in our prison systems could bring forth positive outcomes; more increase in the numbers of inmates being rehabilitated into society, for example. It's said that after soldiers retire they find themselves in similar clockwork routine activities; the same claim can be said about an inmate.

For decades guilty convicts in Jamaica have been thrown behind bars and left to do hard labour as punishment for the crimes they have committed. Maybe it's time we change that; change can be scary, but there is no stopping the inevitable.

Seeing that the ministry has now reclassified the inmates and separated the hardened criminals from the low-level offenders, I believe this conjugal visit programme could benefit the inmates and our country.

Claude McPherson





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