Prison chess game to go islandwide next yearSunday, October 30, 2016
Inmates in all 11 correctional institutions islandwide are to be offered training in the game of chess at the end of next year in Phase 3 of the Chess in Prison programme, which was launched in March this year to benefit both correctional officers and inmates.
This is part of the Ministry of National Security’s Comprehensive Rehabilitation and Society Reintegration Programme for inmates.
The aim is to ensure that participants improve in the areas of problem-solving and decision-making, while being granted an opportunity to engage in positive social interaction.
Attorney Ian Wilkinson, chairman of the Magnificent Chess Foundation, a critical partner in this initiative, said that the programme was geared towards "helping the inmates to be fully rehabilitated by learning to accept responsibility for their actions, improving their self-esteem or self-respect, and reducing their chances of being recidivists".
"The programme will also assist the inmates to serve their sentences while engaging in a competitive, entertaining and healthy cerebral activity, as well as a potential form of employment as chess coaches on release," a press statement said.
"The role of chess in behaviour change is not novel. Studies of similar initiatives across the globe show that when the game of chess is introduced to students, their concentration skills improved and they had a better understanding of the learning process, while there was an increase in intelligence level and creativity, as well as improvements in problem-solving skills, verbal reasoning and memory was boosted," it said.
Project Manager in the Ministry of National Security Dr Thomas said Phase One of the programme was successfully introduced to the Tower Street Adult Correctional Centre, but the Ministry of National Security sought to further develop the skill sets of the inmates that were trained in chess by inviting the Jamaica Women’s Chess Team to conduct a workshop on game-winning strategies. That workshop was led by Deborah Richards-Porter, a five-time Chess Olympian, who not only imparted useful tactics, but played 14 games simultaneously against the inmates; she won 13 and drew one.
Some inmates at the Tower Street Adult Correctional Centre had praises for the programme and the workshop in particular.
One said: "The opportunity presented to the Prison Chess Club to interact with the female professional players was highly appreciated by the prisoners, even though we lost. Next time we will win!"
Another inmate explained: "My experience while watching my fellow inmates and three female Chess Champions of Jamaica proved that we can be great players and was a far cry from what I was expecting. We learnt a few tricks to the game and, of course, a lot of strategies. All in all, I enjoyed the challenge."
Based on this positive feedback received, the programme was extended to two other correctional centres this summer and will be extended to all correctional facilities in 2017.
Dr Thomas explained that: "The comprehensive programme in the correctional institutions seeks to ensure that inmates received targeted therapy and that as many inmates as possible are equipped with not only literacy skills and vocational skills, but also life skills, such as knowing how to resolve a conflict; how to choose and pursue the right career; how to be an engaged parent; as well as how to make sound decisions in general."
The hope of the Ministry of National Security is that these interventions will result in the inmates being sufficiently empowered to be able to resist the temptation to return to a life of crime when they leave the institutions.
Now you can read the Jamaica Observer ePaper anytime, anywhere. The Jamaica Observer ePaper is available to you at home or at work, and is the same edition as the printed copy available at https://bit.ly/epaper-login