Officials at Her Majesty’s Prisons will further expand the facility’s Inmate Industries Program to focus on the production of “tourist-related souvenir products” as a means of further promoting self-employment among inmates upon their release.
National Security Minister Dr Bernard Nottage said the prison will seek to partner with the private sector in the venture – a partnership that will be beneficial to both sides.
“The private sector can provide the capital, the know-how and the marketing, while the inmates will provide the labour and talent,” Dr Nottage said.
Addressing patrons, inmates and prison officials attending a Prison Arts and Crafts Show at New Providence Community Church, Blake Road Wednesday night, Dr Nottage said the showing was “an excellent example of the kind of partnership of which I speak as it provides a marketing outlet for inmates’ products”.
The show featured beautiful designer bags made from local straw, artwork, paintings, carvings and pottery/ceramic pieces all designed and handcrafted by inmates of the facility.
Dr Nottage was particularly impressed with the level of creativity with the handbags that will be marketed under the Prison Industries Brand that is already displayed on the bags.
“I will pit these handbags against any of the bags designed by any of the top designers in the Commonwealth of The Bahamas,” Dr Nottage said.
“They are beautifully designed and handcrafted and I encourage all of you here tonight to be amongst the first to get one of this new line of bags and many of the other items on display.”
Dr Nottage said national security officials and the Government of The Bahamas will invite proposals from the private sector to ensure the success of the thrust into the tourism-related souvenir production field.
He said officials at Her Majesty’s Prisons will also seek to establish permanent sales counters “as prominent outlets” in the near future to showcase all of the products made by inmates and to provide sales and marketing opportunities for the creation of a much larger, revenue-generating enterprise.
“The creation of artwork and crafts provide an effective, therapeutic and rehabilitative tool,” Dr Nottage said.
“Creativity sells and (so) in an attempt to further assist inmates in becoming self-reliant, Her Majesty’s Prison seeks to establish permanent sales counters at prominent outlets that will showcase products made by inmates.”
Dr Nottage said while Arts and Crafts Exhibitions are not new to Her Majesty’s Prisons as the production of Arts and Crafts has been ongoing since the 1950s, Wednesday night’s show was the launch of a new focus.
“This Arts and Craft Show serves as a platform to display the fruits of inmates’ diligent learning in prison as well as their determination to self-reform, thus evoking public attention, encouraging support and acceptance, and creating an opportunity for their rehabilitation.
“It is hoped that through the educational and vocational training in prison, the seed of self-reform at the bottom of each inmate’s heart, can be awakened and in the future, grow to an enormous tree that displays his gifts and talents in all of their splendour.”
Dr Nottage said the collaboration between Renascence Institute International, Her Majesty’s Prisons and New Providence Community Church to host the show, was a perfect template for successful public/private partnerships and how they can be utilised to effectively address many of the social ills impacting the country.
“I thank Dr David Allen and other associates of the Renascence Institute International for the assistance they have provided in showcasing the arts and crafts produced by inmates of Her Majesty’s Prison and Pastor Sweeting and the membership of the New Providence Community Church for hosting the inmates’ products. This is a wonderful space for displaying the work.
“This collaborative effort by Her Majesty’s Prison, the Renascence Institute and the Church is precisely the kind of collective understanding we need to have in addressing the crime and security issues facing our country,” Dr Nottage added.