Don't cloud prison talk with emotions
THE EDITOR, Sir:
For what it's worth, I understand Patria-Kaye Aarons' concerns ('Misplaced prison priorities', Gleaner, October 13, 2015), but she needs to step back from the emotionalism and look rationally at what is before us.
(1) Minister Peter Phillips is aware of the spend, and whether you like it or not, prison, as offensive as it may sound, is just another priority, as are schools, hospitals and water. Tell me of a modern society that doesn't have a modern prison. Please remember that we are signatories to international treaties that hold us to certain international standards consistent with a civilised world. A lot of what we are able to access internationally is dependent on our compliance with these treaties.
As much as we dislike criminals, they have rights, too. Also, try to remember that not everyone in prison is a rapist, thief and murderer. You and I are just a car accident away from a manslaughter charge that could land us in prison.
(2) The average number of deportees that come to Jamaica from England annually is 300. Remember, also, that those who are being sent out to finish their sentences are technically not deportees but would have been deported on completion of their sentences. The maths will not add up to you now because you are unaware of the entire happenings in the correctional system.
Among a suite of reforms being contemplated in the correctional system is a move away from custodial sentences, a reclassification of inmates, more opportunities for parole, and ground is to be broken at the Tamarind Farm for a new block to house 304 medium-security prisoners. The decriminalisation of small quantities of ganja will serve to also reduce the prison population. This is all part of the answer to your question 5.
(3) These plans spoken about in question 3 are also part of bigger plans to include Thetford (Richmond Farm) programmes to make prisons more self-sufficient and less dependent on taxpayers. Respectfully and humbly, my sister, you also need to take your own advice and prove that your brains are sharper than cutlass, and appreciate that emotionalism over cerebralism won't get us anywhere
Part of making Jamaica a safer place will involve a modern prison to put away offenders and ensure a rehabilitative environment. The present situation is geared to recidivism and will, ultimately, continue to endanger us.
Arm yourself with some more information.