FYI: Sen. James Spends Easter With Inmates

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April 14, 2009 – St. Croix senator Wayne A.G. James celebrated Easter Sunday with the inmates of the Golden Grove Correctional Facility at the invitation of Chaplain Rodger Berkitt of the Christian Brotherhood Council, a non-denominational organization comprised of Christian inmates at the Bureau of Corrections. During an ecumenical service, which lasted from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., pastors from various churches across the island ministered to approximately 200 inmates and invited guests.
“We are all essentially spirits,” James said in his 15-minute address to the audience. “Our intangible selves are more real than the tangible. That is why, for example, emotional pain is much more enduring than physical pain. Like the oxygen we breathe and are so dependent upon, the things that are most important for our survival are the things we cannot see–like our soul and our spirits. And if we acknowledge that we are more of the spirit than of the flesh, then we cannot be confined, not even by the walls of this penitentiary. So while your body is physically here at Golden Grove, let your spirit and your soul run free. Read. Write. Think good thoughts; feel good feelings; and do good deeds. And above all, let your hearts be filled with love and forgiveness for yourself and for others,” James added.
Immediately after the service, James remained at the facility and met with the inmates. “As chairman of the senate’s Committee on Education, Youth, and Culture, the issues you face at this facility come under my purview,” James told a group of inmates. “Some of you are young enough to be my children. And others of you have children that attend schools in the territory that I must oversee. And many of you are here because of the society’s failure to instill in you a proper sense of cultural pride and self-worth. I cannot do the work of my committee without addressing your needs.
“We need to seriously consider the rehabilitative aspects of your incarceration,” James told inmates. “Our overall objective should be to encourage you to become productive members of our at-large society after incarceration. Our parole statutes and policies need to be reviewed and adjusted where necessary. And we need to look after the children you have left behind, ensuring that they remain focused.”
James intends to meet with prison officials over the next few days to become fully apprised of the needs and wants of the facility.
“Our inmates are just that: our inmates” James said. “They are our brothers and cousins, fathers and sons. In the short time I was at the facility, I saw Crucians and Continentals, Middle Easterners and men from the Eastern Caribbean. Crucian-Puerto Ricans and Santo Domingans. They are a cross-section of all of us. And we need to make sure that systems are in place which will ensure that they can successfully rejoin us after they have served their time.”

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