Rebuilding bridges of hope.
10 October, 2009
Inmate sharing his views at the YRP Outreach Conference.
“All we need is love”, this was the plea by inmate Viliame Tikotani.
He made this passionate plea at the closing of the three days Yellow Ribbon Outreach Conference at the Naboro Prison Complex on Saturday (October 10).
In a panel discussion that focused specifically on the theme “Rebuilding church and community partnership” it was agreed that while 80 per cent of the inmates were Indigenous Fijians and 81 per cent were from a Christian denomination, there was lack of engagement from these two groups.
Inmate Timoci Silatolu also made a similar observation saying that bridges must be rebuilt to connect the community and the inmates.
“We need to rebuild bridges to the family, the Yasana through the Provincial Council and the community through the new Prisons and Correctional Act.
“Some of the inmates’ have not had any contact with the community.
However, Mr Silatolu told the participants that it was ironic that when an inmate dies, the family is quick to respond.
“Some of us have had no contact with the community; however when an inmate passes away the family is quick to respond.
“The inmates need their family now.”
The Fiji Prisons and Corrections Services Commissioner Brigadier General Ioane Naivalurua agreed with the comment from Silatolu saying that the community needs to be engaged.
“The Indigenous Fijians are very bad in engagement.
The Commissioner said that for the Yellow Ribbon Project to be successful, society must be engaged while the offenders are still inmates.
“Gone are the days, where we open the gates and release the inmates back to society at the end of the sentence.
“We need to work together, while the offender is still an inmate – 70 to 80 per cent of the work needs to be done inside the prison.
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