Tue | Jun 25, 2019

Prison boss freed

Published:Wednesday | June 20, 2018 | 12:00 AMLivern Barrett/ Senior Gleaner Writer
Ina Hunter

Prison boss Ina Hunter has been freed of a criminal charge related to the longstanding problem of sewage flowing from the St Catherine Adult Correctional Centre on to the roadway.

Hunter, commissioner of corrections at the Department of Correctional Services (DCS), was charged last year for breaches of the Public Health Act, an offence that carries a fine up to $50,000 or 12 months in prison.

But the charge was dismissed yesterday after the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, which took over the case, went to the St Catherine Parish Court and offered no evidence against her.

Prosecutors Andrea Martin-Swaby and Syleen O'Gilvie, in explaining the decision, said that the St Catherine Health Department and the National Water Commission have acknowledged that the nuisance caused by the sewage flowing from the prison had been corrected.

"Our office took the position that it was not in the public's interest to continue with the prosecution," Martin-Swaby told The Gleaner. "Based on her position as commissioner of corrections and she being a public servant, we thought it would have been prudent for this matter not to be dealt with in the criminal courts," she added.

The St Catherine Health Department, in a statement to the court, revealed that complaints from business operators and residents about the discharge of wastewater from the prison triggered an investigation. According to the statement, public-health officials visited the prison and observed wastewater being channelled from an area used by the inmates into an open concrete drain, which exited the premises on to the roadway.

"Also, there was blockage and ponding of the free flow of wastewater, which resulted in stagnation and emitted a stench," the statement noted.

Hunter was charged after a 30-day notice expired without any corrective action being taken.