By Geraldine Cook/Diálogo May 07, 2019 The Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force (TTDF) leads two youth programs as part of broader national effort to provide opportunity for underprivileged youths. The Military-Led Academic Training Programme (MiLAT), and the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), focus on driving misguided and underprivileged youths away from crime. “In Trinidad and Tobago, the criminal landscape is fed by misguided youths often times with pent up, unexpanded energy that hasn’t been positively channeled. It’s critically important to provide avenues for the positive expression of the youth’s energy, as it’s much easier to prevent somebody from becoming a criminal than to change a criminal’s mind,” Retired TTDF Rear Admiral Hayden Pritchard, former chief of Defence Staff, told Diálogo. “It’s important to find healthy outlets for young people, especially because of the competing interests of gangs, criminal networks, terrorist networks, and so on.” MiLAT and CCC represent the government of Trinidad and Tobago’s efforts to expose young men and women to vocational and educational opportunities and behavioral changes they may not otherwise have. “The youth programs are like a second chance to help the youths make something of themselves before they get involved in criminal activities,” said Trinidad and Tobago Reserve Major Cheryl Richardson, director of MiLAT and CCC. “It also helps them after they have been involved in criminal activity to get them back on their feet, to redirect their mind, fix their attitudes and behaviors. The students receive positive mentorship and reinforcement, academic instruction, certified training, career guidance, benefit from positive peer motivation, friendship, and brotherhood.” MiLAT Programme Created in 2007, MiLAT is designed to provide academic alternatives for young men between 16 and 20 at risk of gang affiliation, drug trafficking, other criminal activities, and potential radicalization by external actors. MiLAT admits approximately 100 young men per year. Kevin Narine, a 19-year-old MiLAT student, attributes the program to turning his life of street criminality into a success story through discipline, academics, and brotherhood. “I was a juvenile delinquent. [I was in] plenty of trouble in school,” said Narine, who is six months shy of completing the two-year residential program. “MiLAT is life changing. I was at risk; it changed my life in a big way.” The students undergo a three-month induction training to adjust to military discipline and the academy’s routine. Then they enroll in a combination of core subjects, such as Mathematics, English, Language Arts, and Life Skills, and optional subjects, including Information Technology, Social Studies, Human and Social Biology, Music, and Physical Education, among others. As part of the certification program, MiLAT students participate in activities to learn about the environment, first aid, survival training, community service, and others. They prepare for the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate and the Caribbean Certificate of Secondary Level of Competence, equivalent to a high-school degree. “I understand the effectiveness of the youth programs,” said TTDF Coast Guard Leading Writer Alexander Gershwin, a MiLAT instructor who was an at-risk teen before enrolling at CCC. “I offer [students] my own story. I give them my testimony, and it gives them hope. I become more relatable, and they come to me for advice, mentorship, and counseling.” Civilian Conversation Corps CCC is a 1993 initiative designed to provide skills for young men and women between the ages of 16 and 25, with low levels of education and little or no work experience who are susceptible to engaging in criminal activity. Trinidad and Tobago’s Ministry of Defense borrowed the CCC concept from a U.S. public relief program for unemployed, unmarried men during the Great Depression. Matthew Taylor, a 21-year-old Trinidadian high-school dropout, dreams of becoming a graphic designer. When he heard about CCC, he jumped at the opportunity to change his life for the better. “Many youths have nothing to do and they have no motivation. CCC is a good program for the youth,” Taylor told Diálogo. “We can learn and do something good with our lives,” he added. Taylor is five months into CCC’s six-month Computer Literacy course. CCC counts seven educational centers in Trinidad and one in Tobago, and offers students more than 30 six-month courses, such as Building Maintenance, Child Care, Computer Literacy, Electrical Installation, Hairdressing, and Plumbing. The skills prepare them to join the work force through private partnerships with national organizations, to include the National Energy Skill Center and the Trinidad and Tobago Hospitality Institute. Since its creation, more than 35,000 students completed the program, earning a certification in their chosen field. After graduation, CCC hires its top students as part of their leader and mentorship program. “CCC provided me with a stable environment to assist me in deciding what goals I wanted to set for my life and how to go about achieving them,” said TTDF Corporal Adanna Hume-Borrell, a member of the TTDF Public Affairs Division, who specialized in photography at CCC and was later employed as a CCC assistant team commander. She joined TTDF in 2004.
Lawyer trades his practice for a prison ministry The former high finance lawyer has accompanied three inmates to their executions Senior EditorDale Recinella was a second-year law student the first time he ventured into a jail as an eager law clerk. The incarcerated client grabbed his tie through the cell bars and banged him into the steel rods. His wife commented on the precise geometry of his bruises.That experience was enough to keep him away from criminal law.But now, the former high finance lawyer has a surprising new calling. He’s a Catholic lay chaplain patrolling the grim, unair-conditioned, tiny, death row and maximum security cells at Florida State Prison and Union Correctional Institution. As part of his duties with the St. Mary’s Catholic Church (in Macclenny) FSP/UCI Prison Ministry Program, he has accompanied three inmates to execution.And he has written a book, The Biblical Truth About America’s Death Penalty. The book bypasses much of the modern legal arguments about the ultimate penalty, but instead examines the underlying belief of many supporters that the death penalty is authorized by the Bible.His conclusion, perhaps startling, is that the American death penalty meets none of the scriptural requirements of the ultimate sanction and that the Christian stance is to support its repeal.“One of the tasks of the book was to decide what the critical question was; it’s the same as saying, ‘What is the issue of the case?’” Recinella said. “The question that seemed to me to be the most pertinent was can we use the Bible and the death penalty in the Bible to support the American death penalty.“And in order to answer that question, I take the reader through a comparison and contrast of both substantive and procedural issues.”That involves a detailed look at the first five books of the Bible, which are also in the Torah, and an examination of the centuries of Talmudic law that interpret those scriptures.“As it was done in the Old Testament, to meet the requirements of scriptures, and that includes the Talmud, I compiled about 44 critical issues and we do not comply with a single one of them,” Recinella said. “We are zero for 44.“That result completely destroys the shallow approach of there’s a death penalty in the Bible, so what we’re doing must be okay.”His analysis didn’t stop there.“The derivative question is can we fix what we’re doing in the United States today, and that is where we get into what the Constitution requires. . . what makes it impossible to structure a death penalty that would meet the requirements of scripture,” he said.“The person who uses the Biblical death penalty to decide whether they can support the American death penalty has to reach the conclusion to abolish the death penalty, coming from a faith perspective.”The 400-plus page tome is meticulously footnoted (more than 800) and has an extensive bibliography.Recinella said his analysis has nothing to do with political philosophy, noting, “I would not in fact categorize myself as a liberal.” And, he added, people are usually surprised at his conclusions.The reactions are usually of two kinds: “Many people, upon hearing it, realize that it’s true, but had just never realized it before. And their reaction is, ‘Of course, it makes sense. How could you come to any other conclusion?’” he said. “The other reaction is, ‘This can’t be true. If this were true, I would have heard it before.’“I’m very encouraged that as this analysis and the message gets out, we have a chance to have a different discussion about the death penalty from a faith standpoint and about the need for us to discontinue this practice.”Getting to the point in his career as an author and lay counselor has been quite a journey.A 1976 magna cum laude graduate of the Notre Dame University Law School, Recinella worked for Ford Motor Company before a career in Florida law focusing on project finance, and working for both the Ruden, McClosky and Greenburg, Traurig law firms. In 1996-97, Recinella and his family lived in Rome, where he worked at the Studio Avvocati Associati Baker & McKenzie international law firm, and also taught.When they returned and settled in Macclenny, Recinella took up his new duties as a lay chaplain at the state prisons. The change wasn’t as radical as it might seem.In 1995, at the request of a friend, he worked pro bono on a death penalty appeal which drew him into that highly complex and emotional legal field.“I had been involved in prison ministry for six years before I went overseas,” he said, noting he was acting at the request of the local Catholic diocese. He had previously worked with people with AIDS, and a priest asked him if he would work with prison inmates with AIDS.“After a couple more years, I became more involved in general ministry,” he said.“My wife [a nurse when Recinella got his geometric bruises] is a psychologist and works at the Northeast Florida State Hospital. At the time we were moving here [in 1998], the priest who had been covering [the two prisons] for 15 years needed someone to take over the cell-to-cell ministry,” he said.That involves going to both prisons and walking literally from cell to cell and being available to speak to the inmates and offer spiritual support. It includes about 365 inmates on death row and around 2,000 in “close confinement,” the modern term for solitary confinement.“I wanted to become directly involved in reaching out to people who had been marginalized,” Recinella said.His lawyer skills prove valuable.“When I come to each cell, I’m meeting the man for the first time, particularly in solitary, and we need to size each other up very quickly and find the basis for having a relationship,” he noted. “That’s what you do with a group of people when you’re trying to put a deal together.”But no legal deal in his earlier career matched the emotional challenges of Recinella’s current calling. In addition to serving communion, an inmate on death row can choose to have Recinella as his spiritual advisor, instead of a priest, as the inmate approaches execution.In three cases, he has witnessed the execution. Twice, the inmate chose to be executed without Recinella being present, and twice the inmate received a stay pending further appeal.“You are letting yourself care about someone, letting yourself become their friend and brother, while knowing there is the very real possibility you will lose that person and grieve them,” he said.The work also extends beyond the inmate. Recinella typically meets with the inmate’s family, and many times with the family of the victim, as does Recinella’s wife, who provides counseling services. Meeting with the victim’s family “is essential for us to keep our balance on what horrible violent crimes do to families and society,” he said.Meeting with the inmates’ families reminds that “many of the men facing execution have children; they have parents; some have wives,” he said. “The families, who have done nothing wrong, are going through that with them.”In fact, one conclusion Recinella has reached is that “the grief and agony of the victim’s family is the same as for the family of the murderer who is killed by the state. I think that surprised me. I didn’t expect that.”It was about six months into work at FSP and UCI “when I found myself asking the question, ‘Why are we as a society choosing this as a response to violent crime? Was this the solution?’” he asked. “As I started researching that to satisfy my own understanding, I was very surprised to find that a tremendous amount of support for the American death penalty was based on what the American people thought was required by the Bible.”He was also surprised about the history of the U.S. death penalty, which explains the economic and racial disparities in its application. That historical approach also showed that 86 percent of the executions since 1976, after the Supreme Court’s moratorium ended, have occurred in states that also once allowed slavery, a coincidence Recinella sees as important.As he reached his conclusions about Biblical requirements for the death penalty and began talking about them, Recinella said he saw the need for the book. He also recognized that the work would have to be thorough and painstaking, which is why he spent five and a half years on it.To avoid claims that his findings were based on only one version or translation of scriptures, Recinella used three: the original Hebrew texts, the authorized King James 1611 edition, and the New International version.His conclusions are eye-opening.For example, the Bible requires that in death penalty cases, the penalty for prosecutorial misconduct is “let it be done to them as they sought to do him,” a stricture that American law fails to meet. Judges must not be appointed based on their appeal to the masses, and those who seek judicial office are immediately disqualified from sitting on the bench.Recinella also addressed the oft-quoted Romans 13:3-4, which is cited by some as the Apostle Paul’s condoning of the death penalty. One version quotes Paul, when speaking on the authority of kings and secular rulers, as saying, “[B]e not afraid, for he beareth not the sword in vain; for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.”“When one goes to the actual Greek underlying the translations, there are two amazing discoveries,” he said. “The Greek word for ‘sword’ is not the broad sword, which was used for capital punishment, but a short sword on the belt.” That, he said, was a symbol for justice.“Secondly, the word ‘execute’ does not appear in the Greek text. The Greek text implies a verb and the word ‘execute’ is used in the King James edition as a synonym for carrying out or to perform or to complete, like executing a football play,” Recinella continued.“Government is vested with the authority to maintain order in society by punishing those who commit crimes against people.. . . It is a Biblical authority for Christians to impose punishment for crimes, but that’s what our prisons are for. It does not mandate killing people.”Recinella’s book is not available at bookstores, although most can order it on request. It is available on Amazon.com (where all three reviewers have given it a five-star rating) and from Northeastern University Press, which can be contacted at 37 Lafayette St., Lebanon, NH 03766, by phone at (800) 421-1561, or via the Internet atwww.upne.com. Lawyer trades his practice for a prison ministry October 1, 2005 Gary Blankenship Senior Editor Regular News
SHARE Email Facebook Twitter Governor Wolf Tours All Sports America, Touts Collaboration in Reshoring and New Jobs Creation Economy, Jobs That Pay, Press Release Northumberland, PA – Governor Tom Wolf today visited All Sports America, a manufacturer of athletic uniforms, to highlight the administration’s support for the project and manufacturer’s efforts to reshore jobs from overseas to Pennsylvania.“In an era in which so many companies choose to move their operations overseas, success stories like All Sports America show that the best place for a company to grow and thrive is often right here in Pennsylvania,” Governor Wolf said. “I applaud All Sports America for their success so far, and I’m looking forward to seeing them continue to grow in the years to come.”In April of last year, the Governor announced that All Sports America would expand and create 42 new jobs over the next three years, reshoring the manufacturing of products currently being produced overseas. Since the announcement, All Sports America has hired five additional employees, and expects to hire 15 more by the end of 2018.“All Sports America is honored to be working with Governor Wolf and his Action Team in bringing jobs back to Pennsylvania,” said Richard Rock, President & CEO, All Sports America. “With the help of the Governor, we are expanding our operations and expect to hire 42 new full-time employees over the next 3 years.”Last year, All Sports America received a funding proposal from the Department of Community and Economic Development that includes a $40,000 Pennsylvania First Program grant and $42,000 in Job Creation Tax Credits to be distributed upon the creation of the new jobs. The project was coordinated by the Governor’s Action Team, an experienced group of economic development professionals who report directly to the Governor and work with businesses considering locating or expanding in Pennsylvania. January 09, 2018