Inmates held at His Majesty’s Prison are usually allowed only brief visits from relatives and physical interaction is strictly prohibited.
However at the Family Day event held in Kingstown on Wednesday December 13, inmates were afforded the privilege to embrace relatives with some getting the opportunity to hug their children for the first time in years.
Those inmates who spoke to SEARCHLIGHT said the day’s activity was much needed encouragement to keep them grounded during their sentences and periods of remand, also pleading with family members not to abandon them while they remain behind bars.
“Having the support of your family in prison is really important. Some people categorize you and they see you as nothing, but it is really nice to have … somebody that will not give up on you. To know that you have a second chance with at least somebody. Then there are people who won’t have that support. So it is kind of difficult…,” Alana Hudson told SEARCHLIGHT in an interview.
Hudson is one of three women who were convicted of manslaughter in relation to the 2017 stabbing death of Fairhall resident, 23-year-old Simona DaSilva. The Campden Park woman was sentenced to seven years in prison.
Hudson said she clings to the hope that her stint behind bars is drawing to a close to an end.
“I put it in the back of my head that this too shall pass. Looking at them leaving, knowing that I will be leaving at well – this is not a permanent situation for me.”
Hudson’s co-accused, Taylor Mofford was also sentenced to seven years behind bars. She told SEARCHLIGHT that she appreciated the event as it provides the opportunity to socialize with relatives in a more relaxed setting.
“Normally when we get visits it just like 15 minutes and you not allowed to touch but today was different. You could get to socialize more and it is more time so for me that was different and better.”
For Jerome Ollivierre, who has spent five years in the penal institution on remand, the chance to hug his sons, age 14 and 12, was the highlight of his day.
“It has been like five years and some I haven’t seen my kids – two boys. I haven’t seen my mother and then my niece was born when I was in here. It was good seeing her today. To be honest I had to hold back tears because I didn’t want to break down in front of them …”
“Seeing the family, it helps. It gives you courage to know that you have people out there that love you and looking to help you… Seeing the family, it helps. It gives you courage to know that you have people out there that love you and looking to help you. It is encouraging, it helps you cope with being in prison. You get a couple visits now and then but it is not like Family Day. When you get a normal visit it is like being behind a wall, like a gate. And it is only for ten minutes or so.”
Ollivierre admitted that the slow pace of the judicial system can be frustrating and as a way to cope with the monotony of life behind the prison walls, he engages in programs to keep busy until his January 2024 court date.
“The system is slow sometimes. I am hoping for the best come next year. I read a lot. I spend my time reading, attending classes when they have classes. I do things to keep my mind occupied.”
The Belle Isle Correctional prison held its Family Day activities on December 14. The HMP Prison Week of Activities closes out on December 17 with a concert in Kingstown.