Ninjaman wants to spearhead prison rehabilitation program with govt assistance

November 24, 2023  -Incarcerated dancehall veteran Ninjaman wants the Jamaican government’s assistance in spearheading a prison rehabilitation program.

In a four-page letter addressed to Prime Minister Andrew Holness and Leader of the Opposition Mark Golding, the deejay shared that the abundant talent and skills of inmates are only going to waste under the current rehabilitation system.

“One element that is missing from the system in Jamaica is an institution to rehabilitate those who have been incarcerated. We cannot deny that no one was born a criminal; all babies were born innocent beings. The system created criminals, whether through their upbringing or the ills of society. It is imperative that we create a system to help the people who are locked up to achieve self-reliance.

“We have great tradesmen (mechanics, body-work professional, carpenters, furniture makers, etc.) in institutions across Jamaica who simply wake up in the mornings, take a shower, get fed, play football and get back into lock-up. There are a lot of unused skills that are going to waste. I feel that I being institutionalised should be more than just for punishment. I am not here to buy guns or form gangs, I am here to change the mindset of the youth and I am asking the government to assist me with restarting a rehabilitation programme that I am willing to spearhead,” the deejay stated in the letter.

Ninjaman said he’s already communicated his thoughts and ideas to the prison’s Superintendent and the Deputy Commissioner of the prison and has requested a meeting with both. He said he also wishes to meet with Prime Minister Holness, the Minister of National Security Horace Chang, and Chief Justice Justice Bryan Sykes.

In 2017, Ninjaman was found guilty of the 2009 murder of Ricardo Johnson. The deejay, whose real name is Desmond Ballentine was sentenced to life in prison, with the possibility of parole after 25 years.

Opposition leader responds

In response to Ninja Man’s letter, Golding agreed with the incarcerated musician, stating that emphasis should be placed on the importance of rehabilitating individuals in the prison system.

Golding said the deejay’s insight is “worthy of serious consideration with a view to action.”

“Your insights, stemming from first-hand experience, are worthy of serious consideration with a view to action. The issues you have raised regarding the inadequate attention to rehabilitation, and the lack of post-release employment or other income-earning opportunities, are pressing matters that demand the immediate attention of the Government, with support from the Opposition and Civil Society,” he said.

Golding also highlighted his willingness to help facilitate rehabilitation efforts.

“I therefore hope that the Government will facilitate a bipartisan and inclusive process to move this matter forward. I am ready and willing to play my part.”

Golding thanked the deejay for his willingness to spearhead the rehabilitation efforts and encouraged him to keep pushing his agenda.

“Your commitment to spearheading a rehabilitation program is commendable, and I am willing to engage in discussions on how we can make this vision a reality. I accept that observing the conditions first-hand will be important for us to gain a greater appreciation of the challenges and the potential solutions, and I am willing to be part of that process. If invited, I am also willing to participate in the meetings that you have requested with key stakeholders, including the Prime Minister, Minister of Security, Minister of Justice, and the Chief Justice,” Golding’s statement read.

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