State Department to Spend $95,000 Teaching Haitian Inmates How to Sew

July 16, 2013 - 10:38 AM

n this photo taken Feb. 19, 2010, women work at the DKDR Haiti garment assembly factory in Port-au-Prince. (AP Photo, Javier Galeano)

( – The State Department through its Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs is planning to spend $95,000 to provide vocational training to Haitian inmates in textile production and assembly.

“The applicant should demonstrate an ability to conduct job training on clothing production (including skills such as sewing, tailoring, and/or clothing assembly) within individual prisons in Haiti’s Ouest Department. This training should be hands-on and allow prisoners to get real practice working with textile materials,” the grant said.

The International Narcotics and Law Enforcement (INL) specifically targeted the textile industry, “which is projected to grow in Haiti as the Caracol industrial park and other textile-export businesses commence operations in the upcoming years,” the grant explained.

The grant is intended to reduce prisoner recidivism rates by providing inmates with “skills they can use directly after their release, which will facilitate their entry into the job market,” the grant announcement said.

Haiti’s prisons are severely overcrowded, and conditions are “hazardous” for inmates with the current prison population exceeding the intended capacity by 5,487 inmates, the grant explained.

“Women, men, juveniles, and serious/petty offenders are not separated consistently across the system. Many inmates are held in pre-trial detention, but are not separated from convicted felons,” it said.

The grant recipient is expected to include Department of Prison Administration (DAP) personnel in the program “through a ‘train-the-trainer’ approach, so that DAP will be able to provide this vocational training independently in the future.”

“Inmates targeted for participation should be convicted prisoners with remaining sentences between 2-5 years, with higher priority on those with less time remaining. This will give the program continuity through prisoners who continue to participate and facilitate training for others, but also in that acquired skills will still be relevant upon prisoners’ release in a medium-term timeframe,” the grant said.

The grant recipient is also expected to work with prison personnel so that trained inmates can “produce uniforms for Haiti’s prison population,” so that prison officials can tell the difference between inmates and civilians.

“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 recipient should demonstrate the ability to procure necessary materials and work with newly-trained inmates to create uniforms for the DAP,” the grant added.

“Budgets should include costs for both administration of training and the materials needed to produce the uniforms; however, INL will procure cloth for the uniforms separately and provide this commodity directly to DAP,” the grant added.

“Recipient will also coordinate with DAP to use sewing machines already in the prison facilities, which DAP will be responsible for. The applicant will be responsible for all other materials necessary and these can be charged to the grant,” it said.

The grant is for one award of at least $40,000 and up to $95,000. The award may be extended up to two years based on the bureau’s “program priorities, good performance on the award, and pending funding availability.”

The grant was announced on June 3 and the deadline for applications was July 3. contacted the State Department with questions about the grant, but the department did not reply by press time.