Philipsburg – The official opening ceremony of the repaired and refurbished gym at the Point Blanche prison was held today, Wednesday, July 6, 2022, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. Present during the ceremony were the Honorable Minister of Justice Anna E. Richardson, Prison Director Mr. Steven Carty, and their respective supporting staff, Prison Guard Mr. Dean Joseph, the prison program team, and the inmate maintenance team. The ceremony was opened with a prayer by one of the prison’s inmates who expressed thanks for the actions taken to revitalize the facility after so many years so that the inmate population can actively work toward rehabilitation.

During the opening ceremony, Minister Richardson stated, “This improvement is monumental. After taking such a hit from hurricanes Irma and Maria, and some other drawbacks, we are here today. I am excited and look forward to the inmates making good use of this improved facility. Sports have the potential to stimulate inmates and promote social interaction. I also commend the prison director and his management team for this great accomplishment, as it must not go unmentioned.”

Over the past months, under the leadership of Minister Richardson, a number of improvements have been made at the prison in various areas. One of the focal points of these improvements is the development and enhancement of the overall day-time program for the inmates. This includes but is not limited to reintroducing the educational and sports programs, expanding the labor possibilities for the inmates, infrastructural upgrades, and more. Part of the infrastructural improvements has been repairing, repainting, and refurbishing the airspaces, the gym, the classrooms, the music room, the barbershop, the housing areas, and more. In terms of labor activities, the prison’s intention is to include the inmates as much as possible in the above-mentioned repairs by creating inmate maintenance and cleaning teams.

The gym was one of the first projects that were initiated due to the poor state that it was in, with equipment that had reached the end of its technical lifecycle and warranted replacement. Upon the request of Minister Richardson, the prison’s management was requested to pursue immediate improvements to the prison’s gym. The prison management, in collaboration with the Monster Factory Foundation thus started discussions in 2021 on sprucing up the entire gym. With the expertise of the Monster Factory Foundation, a selection of new and gently used equipment that was best suitable for the prison environment was sought. Once the equipment was ordered and, on its way, preparations were made to repair and repaint the gym area. This work was executed mainly by the inmate maintenance team.

Introducing more sports activities within the facility not only positively affects the inmates’ physical and mental health, but also has a positive effect on the overall behavior of inmates, and ultimately, the living environment within the facility. Similarly, in a press statement published in the local media on June 16, 2022, mention was made of the soccer associations R.I.S.C Takers and Street Kings visiting the prison and the positive effects that this has had on the inmates.

As a last token of appreciation, Minister Richardson gifted the gym a new basketball and bid the prison much success in this undertaking.