Sun | Jun 16, 2024

Ex-prisoners grateful after FFTP pays fines for Easter release

Published:Tuesday | April 11, 2023 | 12:41 AMAinsworth Morris/Staff Reporter
Romion Fairclough, one of two non-violent offenders who Food For The Poor Jamaica paid their fines to have them released from the St Catherine Adult Correctional Centre on Holy Thursday.
Romion Fairclough, one of two non-violent offenders who Food For The Poor Jamaica paid their fines to have them released from the St Catherine Adult Correctional Centre on Holy Thursday.

Ronardo Ormsby, one of two inmates released from the St Catherine Adult Correctional Centre in time for Easter after their fines were paid by Food For The Poor Jamaica (FFTP), vows never to lay his hands on a woman again.

Ormsby told The Gleaner in an interview on Sunday that he was charged $200,000 and sentenced on December 15, 2022 for hitting the mother of his son during a dispute in 2022.

However, after spending Christmas and four months of a six-month sentence before the charity group came along last Thursday and footed the bill for him, he not only has regrets, but promises not to allow his anger to get the best of him.

“It’s a great feeling [being released in time for Easter]. I’m grateful and thankful. From mi heart, I really appreciate it,” Ormsby told The Gleaner.

He described being behind bars, especially on Christmas Day, as “a rough life”.

“It was a rough experience, but a great lesson also. [It was] very emotional, very touching. You have to remain strong inside, from your heart and your soul, overall. You just have to have a strong belief. At Christmas, it (being locked up) break mi spirit. Whole heap a memories and thinking and wishing and regret in your dealings, too. It was a messed-up feeling ... ,” he said.

Ormsby’s case was taken into consideration for early release based on his positive demeanour and well-mannered disposition.

FREEDOM TO MOVE ON

His mother, Nadine Brown, with whom he is now staying, told The Gleaner that she is elated that he was released so he can continue fishing and earning a living to take care of his child.

“He’s a hard-working son. Every night [him used to] gone swim and catch fish and try fi tek care a him son, so mi feel proud when mi see him come out. I feel so happy like mi life come back. Mi did want faint weh when mi hear seh him get lock up, because a mi first child, so mi never feel good,” Brown told The Gleaner.

Now that Ormsby is back at his mother’s house in St Mary, he said that he would accept help from anyone willing to help him replace his fishing gear, which were abandoned when he was locked up in December.

After Ormsby stepped through the gates of the St Catherine Adult Correctional Centre on Thursday, he had no idea as to how he would get back to St Mary from Spanish Town. However, another non-violent offender, Romion Fairclough, whose fine of $60,000 was also paid by Food For The Poor Jamaica on Thursday, showed him the way to Half-Way Tree and how to take the bus from there to St Mary.

Fairclough, like hundreds of public transport operators plying routes in Kingston and St Andrew, had unpaid traffic tickets. He also did not have a badge as mandated by the Transport Authority and was not wearing his uniform.

“A couple weeks ago, I was in Half-Way Tree. I got pulled over and they (the police) asked for my driver’s licence and they ran it and saw that I had outstanding tickets and three warrants. I felt really bad at that time because they put on handcuffs. They never harassed me, still, but they never dealt with me like a pretty boy,” he told The Gleaner on Sunday.

“They threw me in the [police] vehicle and brought me straight to Elletson Road [Police Station] and released the handcuffs and told me what and what I was charged for, and then couple hours after that, [I was brought] straight to court,” Fairclough explained.

He pleaded guilty, but none of his relatives could pay the fines for his release so he was brought to a holding area at the Tower Street Adult Correctional Centre. He was later taken to the Tamarind Farm prison, but there was no space to accommodate him, so he was eventually brought to St Catherine Adult Correctional Centre.

After one week, he was called to go to the entry of the prison, where he was greeted with the good news that his fine was paid in full.

After being released, his first instinct was to purchase phone credit and call his mother, who lives along Shortwood Road, and head straight to her house for motherly comfort.

During the Easter weekend, Fairclough chose to remain inside to celebrate his good fortune and reflect on his transgressions.

“Mi affi go mek an effort this time because mi a tell you, being in a lock-up in a prison cell, all a you freedom is just gone. All freedom – freedom fi use di bathroom and all a dem sumn deh. You can’t do as you like. You get locked down at certain time. When you get up, you have fi go empty what you urinate in, hold a fresh again, and catch your meal,” he said.

Annually, in the spirit of the Christmas and Easter seasons, Food For The Poor Jamaica pays the fines for some non-violent offenders for them to be released from prison.

ainsworth.morris@gleanerjm.com