Inmates benefit from Chess in Prison Programme

Friday, March 25, 2016

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KINGSTON, Jamaica - Sixteen inmates from the Tower Street Adult Correctional Centre have benefitted from the Chess in Prison Programme.
The programme, an initiative of the Modernization Initiatives and Strategic Projects Division of the Ministry of National Security in partnership with the Department of Correctional Services and the Magnificent Chess Foundation, took place over four weeks and culminated with a closing ceremony, held at the correctional centre on Tuesday, March 15.
Addressing the inmates at the ceremony, Acting Director of Rehabilitation at the DCS, Randolph Dawkins stated, "When the odds are against you, we want you to make rational decisions and chess is a game that will help in your decision making."
This initiative is the first of its kind at the facility and was started out of a response to the call for more rehabilitative measures to be put in place in prisons.
Project Manager within the Ministry of National Security with direct responsibility for the programme, Dr. Marc Thomas, highlighted that the objective of the programme is to advance the therapeutic and rehabilitative aims of the DCS through teaching the game of chess to inmates.
One inmate who spoke to the game of chess being relevant and applicable to real life situations stated, "…you moving in the game of chess and if you mek one wrong or make a mistake… just like in di streets, you make a bad move…you can lose out just for that one move… you might get away wid it if the opponent doesn’t catch it but you should know nex time u mek di right move…so it’s a big help in decision making."
The project, in its pilot phase, targeted inmates with sentences lasting longer than four months who expressed an interest in the game.
It started with ten inmates and two correctional officers but later grew to 16 inmates and three correctional officers.
Training sessions were held Monday to Thursday at the correctional centre.
Speaking to the interest garnered for the game, another inmate commented, "Since this programme is only from Monday to Thursday…during the weekend you’ll find a person with a board, you’ll see a crowd, everybody like the game, everybody want to learn, even the warders interested."
The programme, partly sponsored by the Magnificent Chess Foundation, also seeks to expand on the existing options of sports and leisure activities for inmates while improving their problem- solving and decision-making skills.

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