Sunday, October 27, 2013
International Day of the Prisoner
October 27 is International Day of the Prisoner, and the prison in Les Cayes decided to hold a special Mass and speaking event to mark the occasion. They couldn't find another priest in town, so they asked Fr. Marc to come celebrate.
The Mass was short but inspiring, held in the central courtyard and was followed by speeches from local authorities and a few prison inmates about prisoners' rights and challenges facing the Haitian justice system. It's by and large a broken one, with drastic overcrowding in cells and many inmates staying in jail for months, even years, before being brought before a judge for assessment and sentencing.
Some of the older boys, like Lifaite here and a handful of others in the back, came to serve at Mass, take pictures, or just observe. It's important they understand and struggle with the major social issues of their day; it gives perspective and purpose.
The minors and women inmates could attend Mass in the courtyard with the assembled visitors and staff. Actually, dressed for church, it was hard telling them apart from anyone else in the crowd. The adult men had to stay in and receive communion from their cells.
A lot of positive things were said by the local dignitaries, like the UN representative from Madagascar here: acknowledgements of flaws, assertions of prisoners' rights, reassurances that steps are being taken towards improving conditions. Here's hoping the talk becomes reality.