OFFICIALS at Her Majesty’s Prisons will break new ground this weekend with the unveiling of a baseball facility that has been constructed on the Fox Hill compound.
The ceremonies will begin at 3pm on Saturday, January 18. Built to Major League Baseball standards, the construction of the diamond is the first phase of a comprehensive plan that will result in the construction of a Mini Sporting Complex that will also include facilities for track and field, basketball, tennis, and other major sports.
The baseball diamond is configured at 320 feet down both the left and right field lines, and 400 feet to dead centre.
Minister of National Security Dr Bernard Nottage is expected to deliver the keynote address during Saturday’s ceremony.
Dr Nottage will be joined by cabinet colleagues, prison officials, members of the clergy, officials and players from the Freedom Farm Baseball League, and invited guests.
An exhibition game has been scheduled between the Prison All-Stars and a team of players from the Freedom Farm Baseball League.
Senator Greg Burrows, one of the founders of the Freedom Farm Baseball League, has been working along with other officials with a select group of inmates in preparation for the game.
“I expect our inmates to put on a good showing due to the outstanding work Senator Burrows and his team has placed into developing them,” Prison Superintendent Patrick Wright said.
Other events will include throwing, fielding and hitting contests for the youngsters in attendance.
Superintendent Wright said the construction of the baseball diamond and the mini sporting complex, is part of the government of the Bahamas’ move towards the facility serving as a correctional institution rather than a penal institution.
Mr Wright said while the facility will retain its punitive side, the construction of the sporting complex will allow it to advance its correctional side and allow for greater interaction between the facility, its staff, inmates and members of the general public.
“For 70 years, society has been locked out, or Her Majesty’s Prison has been viewed in such a way that the re-integration of our inmates into society has not achieved the kind of results that we would have wanted because our former inmates would have been viewed as outcasts and that is one of the reasons I believe recidivism is so high,” Mr Wright said.
“This move, and some of the others we have on the drawing board, will allow us to correct that. It allows us to foster and develop new relationships between the prison and society, particularly families.”
Superintendent Wright said children in the eastern New Providence, staff and inmates will benefit “tremendously” from the construction of the baseball facility and ultimately the sporting complex.
“There are a number of benefits to the construction of the sporting complex. One, it will provide more access to greater, structural recreation based on international standards and best practices; secondly, it will help to further instil discipline, such as the kind that is associated with the various sports such as baseball, basketball, tennis and track and field into our inmates, and it will provide recreation and training for our staff.
“It will also allow us, as the third arm of the national security network of our country, to play a role in reducing crime and criminality in the country.”
Supt Wright said the prison will partner with Urban Renewal to work with the youngsters in the eastern community as a part of the government’s ongoing project to create safe neighbourhoods.
“Sports have played a critical role in the development of the Bahamas and it helps to build discipline. We want to get as many of the youngsters in this community involved in one sport or another; see which sport is their strong point and then work with them to develop those talents,” he said.
“This is our way of helping in the fight against crime because it is my sincerest belief that the programme upon which we are about to embark, can provide a better way of life for them with regards to receiving scholarships based on their abilities and capabilities and steering them away from a life of crime.”