Govt. Spends 95K Teaching Haitian Inmates how to Sew

By Melanie Hunter

( – The State Department did not have success finding a grant recipient last year, so it decided to again announce a $95,000 grant opportunity for a pilot program to train Haitian inmates in textile production and assembly so that they can sew uniforms for other inmates.

“The objective of the program is to provide training to inmates that will provide them with valuable skills for employment in textile production and assembly, which they will then use to create standardized uniforms for Haiti’s inmate population,” the grant announcement said.

“The grantee will need to work closely with the Haitian Department of Prison Administration (DAP) to hold trainings within DAP facilities, involve DAP personnel through a ‘train the trainer’ model, and coordinate details on inmates’ uniform production,” the announcement said.

“Having standardized uniforms is important for DAP, because corrections officers cannot differentiate between inmates and civilians. Differences in inmates’ street clothes can prompt discrimination in how they are treated by corrections officers, or can incite theft from other inmates,” the grant said.

The grant recipient “should aim to train at least 100 DAP inmates in textile production skills, and at least one DAP personnel in each participating prison.” The training is expected to be delivered to “at least four prison facilities in Haiti’s Ouest Department, including the Youth Offenders’ facility in Delmas 33 and the PetionVille Women’s facility.”

Applicants are expected to propose “key personnel and trainers who are fluent in French and/or Haitian Creole, and all course materials must be delivered in French and/or Haitian Creole (not through interpretation).”

Haiti’s prisons are severely overcrowded with the current prison population exceeding the intended capacity by 5,487 inmates. “Women, men, juveniles, and serious/petty offenders are not separated consistently across the system,” the grant announcement said.

Not only is the program an effort to alleviate “severe overcrowding and improve humane conditions” within Haiti’s prison system, but it is expected to provide inmates with skills they can use to re-enter society and reduce recidivism. Inmates can use these skills to “facilitate their entry into the job market.”

“Inmates targeted for participation should be convicted prisoners with remaining sentences between 2-5 years, with higher priority on those with less time remaining.”

The grant is being issued by the State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs. One grant is expected to be awarded with an award floor of $40,000 and an award ceiling of $95,000.
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