Incarcerated artiste Ninjaman has published an open letter directed at Jamaica’s Prime Minister Andrew Holness, Opposition Leader Mark Golding, and National Security Minister Horace Chang, calling for measures to curb the crime on the island.
The artiste is currently serving 25 years to life in prison sentence for the 2009 murder of Ricardo ‘Ricky Trooper’ Johnson. However, he has been putting out narrated open letters addressing various things in the dancehall space and politics.
In his latest open letter narrated by Jojo Mac, Ninjaman, whose real name is Desmond Ballentine, said he was offering a proposal to politicians based on his experience of being incarcerated that may be useful in understanding the crime situation on the island.
“Being incarcerated in the system should not be a hindrance to me or anyone else in the system contributing to Jamaica in a positive way,” the artiste said about his advice.
According to Ninjaman, many persons in the prison system would do better with ways to rehabilitate them to return to the general population so they can break the cycle of crime.
“People who are incarcerated should be given some hope that when they return to society, they will have options, or more than likely a great number of them would return to the thing that got them locked up in the first place or worse. When a man or woman loses all sense of hope for self-reliance, their mental state is no longer normal, the need for survival is what will prompt them, therefore the general populace would no doubt be at risk,” the artiste said.
He continued, “When melancholy sets in, no one knows where the axe will fall, the only thing is we can be sure of it that it will.”
The artiste also said that the present jail system does not have any mechanisms to rehabilitate prisoners who are from various professions but instead are just detained, wake up, get fed, play football, and go back to lock up.
“There are a lot of unused skills that are going to waste. I feel that I being institutionalized should be more than just for punishment, I am not here to buy guns or form gangs, I’m here to change the mindset of the youth and I’m asking the government to assist me with restarting a rehabilitation program that I am willing to spearhead,” the artiste said.
According to Ninjaman, he’s asked to meet with the head of the prisons to discuss the idea, and he’s asking for a meeting with the National Security, Minister of Justice, the Chief Justice, and the Prime Minister to meet at the prison to visit the prison and see firsthand “what we’re dealing with.”
“A huge percentage of the people inside these prison walls came in when in their early years. Their best years are spent there. Their chances of doing something good of themselves are tarnished. The burden of the prison system should not be placed on the citizens of Jamaica, we must find a way for the institution to maintain itself- computer classes, technician classes, and mechanical among other things should be implemented. There are furniture makers who could make furniture, the furniture could be put on the auction block by a yearly auction,” the artiste said, adding that the prisoners could earn a percentage of the income to assist their minor children and for the prisoner when he comes out of jail.
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The dancehall legend also called out human rights groups for not advocating for the elderly prisoners, who he said are so sick they are incapable of committing a crime, but they should be released from prison, which can help to improve the conditions of other prisoners to maintain their human rights.
Ninjaman also said despite his own mistakes, he is for peace and wants what’s best for Jamaica.
The artiste’s message was well received by others like Isat Buchana, Stacious, I-Octane, and others.
“This is powerful and needs special attention,” I-Octane said.