Prison prepares to spread a little Christmas cheer to inmates

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Relatives will not be able to visit inmates in person due to the pandemic
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By Shermain Bique-Charles

[email protected]

Prisoners in Antigua and Barbuda are set to enjoy a full Christmas lunch and other festive activities, the jail chief has told Observer.

Although Covid-19 has caused some events to be scaled back this year, Superintendent of Prisons Jermaine Anthony said efforts will be made to bring some “Christmas cheer to the inmates”.

He said, notwithstanding the fact that they are behind bars, prisoners look forward to the festive season.

But he acknowledged, “There are some who are sad because this is not where they would want to spend Christmas.”

Some of the other activities planned include the annual Boxing Day lunch where prisoners will feast on foods usually enjoyed during the holidays like ham, turkey and black cake.

“We have our traditional Boxing Day family lunch. Relatives can also bring along whatever meals they would have prepared for their loved ones. We have some care packages to present to the inmates too,” Anthony explained.

A team of prison officers has been assigned to ensure that the items entering the prison all fall within the confines of the law.

“They will use our security protocols to ensure that contrabands are not smuggled with the Christmas food,” Anthony said.

Sadly, however, inmates’ usual communal seated lunch will be prohibited this year.

“We will not be able to have the sit down and eat because of Covid but they can have their lunches brought to them. We are still going to maintain our rigid protocols,” Anthony added.

Another setback caused by the pandemic is that the ‘no visits’ rule will not be lifted, but family members can arrange virtual meetings with the inmates, which will be arranged by the prison.

“It is very effective [in controlling Covid] so we are still going to remain closed to physical visitation. Our virtual platform is still up and running so anyone who wishes to spread the Christmas cheer can set up a visit,” he explained.

He said plans are also being made to accommodate religious services.

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