Daniel in the Lion’s Den

The five-minute clip of a young black-bad boy named Daniel on Synergy’s Breaking Dawn with Stephan Reis  show this morning (May 18) served as a welcome reminder to viewers of what’s happening on the dark side of this usually passive twin-island Caribbean democratic republic.

Without any frills or ceremony, the young man who seemed to be in his early twenties, recounted how in his short existence, he had been pushed to near-death on two occasions and had spent a number of occasions in prison because of his involvement in criminal activities.

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“Don’t let none of dem so-called big bosses give you impression that you can commit crime and go to a nice place called jail where you can rest until you come back out”, he warned all youths who were considering taking up that kind of life.

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“I have seen the baddest and the biggest sit down like a poo-me-one and cry like a baby when they had to face the cell. And for those who have the idea that they will get a lot  of nice things for free, then think again!”, he advised.

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 He explained that these nice things came at a cost where you can end up with “your bottom hurting you fir the rest of your life”.

It’s 23 hours inside and only one hour out – then you have to go back into a cell with a seta men in a space big like a toilet. That’s how Daniel put it as he  talked about the huge slash  on his stomach received as a victim of robbery. He was also shot and therefore faced the cemetery twice   

“When you go into this crime thing you will enter go to the cemetery, the prison or end at up at

the wrong end of a police bullet. So think again!” he warned the youths of T+T.

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Daniel’s warning was intensified by a heart-wrenching story in the Trinidad Guardian dated  May 18 featuring the case of Neville Claude,55 who ts currently serving a life-sentence alongside his son Dexter Hackett Glaude, 26 for murder and possession of a firearm respectively.

“Great is my tribulation.” Incarcerated Neville Glaude, 55, was philosophising on his “life sentence.” He made this comment at a reunion between inmates and their families for the Christmas season at the Michael Hercules Gymnasium, Maximum Security Prison, Arouca, on December 4.

Like other incarcerated citizens, they were spending time with their families-wives, girlfriends, children and grandchildren. Prisons Commissioner John Rougier had described the approach as “restorative justice with a philosophical approach.”

According to, the Guardian: As far as the eye could see, inmates and loved ones joked, chatted and traded their experiences about prison and the “free world.” Women doted on the menfolk. Sporting dreadlocks, jeans and T-shirt, an observer would not have thought senior Glaude was a prisoner but dressed to go liming.

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But the fact that he was imprisoned was communicated by the initials MSP etched on his T-shirt. Beaming, Glaude said: “I am a member of the inmates band. I am about developing myself.” He has honed his skills in music and has accepted the fate he had been dealt with in his lifetime.

An eternal optimist, Glaude said: “I know I can still make it to heaven. I will be free for eternity.” Glaude also attributed the downward spiral in his life and his incarceration to “spiritual warfare.” Taking a moment to pat his grandson, he said: “Parents have lost spiritual values. We have lost spiritual values. No matter what you do, you are engaging in spiritual warfare.”

Female Penitentiary Center Imagens e fotografias de stock - Getty Images

On a personal note, he added: “I lost my mother and my father while I was in here. My tribulation is great. “I sometimes feel the Creator has me in here for a purpose. If by my life I could guide others to turn away from crime and evil, then I would accomplish something.”

This sounds similar to Daniel who said he never knew his mother and father and called on youths to respect their parents.

Among the inmates looking forward to being reunited with his family was Mark Stewart. He had been committed for marijuana possession. His children Turrell, Zion, Vanessa and wife Shelly Ann Lewis had visited him.

He said: “I want to be close to my youths; to be always there with them and spend time with them.”

Boasting he was a skilled labourer, he said he would be seeking employment to maintain his family. “I work very hard. I was wrongfully accused of selling weed.” He thanked his mother Zena Mendoza for helping out with the children.

Llittle boy and grandfather visiting the maximum security prison on Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned - Illustrative editorial image ROBBEN ISLAND, SOUTH AFRICA, 18 December 2016: Llittle boy and grandfather visiting the maximum security prison on Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned prison family visit stock pictures, royalty-free photos & images

Quizzed on their Christmas wish, little Khalifa, ten, and Joanna, eight, said: “We want our daddy.” But the reality is their father Francis Mendoza will not be released until April 2011. He was charged with wounding with intent and sentenced to 14 months at the prison in Arouca.

His wife Samantha Mendoza said her husband was “a good man.” But he had a problem managing his anger. Mendoza, too, admitted people had to try and control their emotions. “We have to think before we act. I did not think before I acted.” However, while Mendoza admitted “prison life was tough,” he was “calmer in spirit.”

During his incarceration his wife continued managing their catering business at Palo Seco.

Quizzed on her plans for Christmas, she said: “We will be spending it with family. I will miss him a lot. But we have to cope with it.”

Keep holding on, I'm with you Women in visit to her sister in prison prison family visit stock pictures, royalty-free photos & images

Nigel Mendoza, prisons officer attached to the Programme Department at New Street, Port-of-Spain, has been working on the project. Spearheading the project is Senior Supt Henry Chase. Mendoza said: “The idea is to bring children under 16 to spend time with their incarcerated parents or grandparents. They would be able to share a meal and exchange experiences that would help in the fostering or reintegration process.”

The project was repeated at the Women’s Prison December 10 and at the Youth Training Centre on December 18.

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Having committed the crime, it’s interesting that most prisoners have expressed deep remorse and are looking forward to re-uniting with their now far-away families. They are far luckier than  Daniel who has no family to go home to – and who has made it his mission to discourage  young people away from a world of crime.

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