PHILIPSBURG:--- The Point Blanche Prison and House of Detention held its End of Term Ceremony for its piloted Prison Education Program (PEP) on Saturday, December 17th, 2022. Prison Director Mr. Steven Carty welcomed the Honorable Minister of Justice Anna E. Richardson and her support staff, the Creative Leadership and Innovation Management Bureau (CLIMB) foundation instructors, Point Blanche Prison and House of Detention staff, inmates, and family and friends of the inmates. Mr. Carty congratulated the inmates for their progress and encouraged them to continue learning. He extended his gratitude to the CLIMB foundation for providing an inclusive education program that considered the needs of each inmate with the desire to further their education.
“One basic goal at the Point Blanche Prison is to create opportunities for success. We are all products of our village’s success plan. At this institution, we are a village. We don’t pick and choose what areas we are going to give support to. These graduates are a part of our village, and we are wholeheartedly cheering, applauding, and encouraging after supporting them through to the completion of the GED program. This success was theirs to claim. They owed it to themselves, and we are honored to stand with them—then, and now,” Prison Director Mr. Carty stated as he addressed the graduating inmates.
“Although you haven’t physically been present here with us you are still a part of this journey because without your support the Prison Education Program would have never commenced. I wholeheartedly thank you and express my gratitude. I am overwhelmed with pride and thankful for your recognition because you realized that we needed a change in our lives and you didn’t want us to step back out into society the same way we came in. Even though this happened after we were incarcerated, it has kept us engaged in significant work that has the goal of helping others to see that there is change and that no matter where we are we all need a change mentally. Thank you for your helping hand, for your warm and tender heart, and for the opportunity of a brand new start. Our future brightens with each program your implement, each smile you lengthen and each goal you help us achieve,” stated one of the inmates to Minister Richardson on behalf of all inmates during the ceremony.
CLIMB foundations’ instructors Yadira Boston and Delroy Pierre, expressed at the ceremony that they understand the importance of identifying the level of each inmate as the starting point of effective instruction. At the start of the PEP, the CLIMB foundation assessed the inmates who enrolled. The assessments indicated that many inmates struggled with reading- as reading levels ranged from kindergarten to primary grade levels. For the few inmates beyond a primary grade reading level, students’ levels varied from Pre-GED to GED in different subject areas when assessed for the GED program. Once the assessments were completed, all inmates enrolled in the program received individualized learning plans. This allowed the inmates to work at their level and pace through a guided differentiated instructional program.
The Prison Education Program (PEP) End of Term Ceremony celebrated the progress of all students (11 inmates), as all had shown appreciable increases in academic achievement during the short duration of the program. In fact, four had shown enough progress in all subject areas to be able to sit the official GED exams after only a few months in the program. Two out of the four inmates that sat all the GED exams passed and earned an Official GED diploma. Boston stated that the other two inmates are set to do their last GED exams to earn their GED diplomas in January 2023.
At the End of term ceremony, inmates expressed their heartfelt gratitude through speeches and poetry to the Honorable Minister of Justice for giving them a second chance to continue their education and for providing them with an educational environment filled with new computers, headphones, books, whiteboards, digital screen and positive teachers who cared.
Minister Richardson was elated that the educational objective that falls under the vision for the Point Blanche Prison and House of Detention is being realized. The Minister congratulated each inmate for their progress in the program and gifted them with a token to encourage them to continue progressing. The Minister then took the opportunity to thank the director of the prison, the entire team at the Point Blanche Prison and House of Detention, and the CLIMB foundation for their hard work and dedication to making this program a success.
“I am elated to celebrate the success of our 11 inmates who have chosen to soar academically. The step that they’ve taken to pursue education while in detention highly indicates that society should not give up on them. The celebration which was aptly themed “Success Beyond Expectations” was a very emotional one for me as I looked towards the enthusiastic inmates who are very eager to continue the educational program offered at the prison. I repeatedly stated to them: At no point in time should you ever give up, I am so proud of you” stated Minister Richardson.