More scrutiny for Freeport lock-up – acting Custos
Claudette Bryan, the acting Custos of St James, said the Freeport Lock-up in Montego Bay, St James will remain on the radar of the St James Chapter of the Lay Magistrates Association, of which she is also the acting president, to ensure that proper standards are maintained.
Speaking against the background of the recent 'lice and chink' infestation, which forced the St James public health authorities to order the lock-up closed in January, Bryan said Justices of the Peace will be mandated to do more regular checks to ensure that inmates are treated in a dignified way.
"I do believe health comes first, and since being the president, we've been trying to do more jail visits every other week," she explained, noting that, "normally, JPs in the parish would be invited to do their visits zone by zone, thus ensuring that everyone gets a chance to become experienced in their roles."
Bryan added, "Jail visits are not one of the most pleasant things to do, with how our jail is set up, but our JPs are trained properly to go in the jails and make proper checks to ensure things are working smoothly."
The acting custos further outlined that a JP's power extends to that of checking to see how long detainees are in the lock-up, the conditions of the cells and whether or not they have any urgent needs.
She said, "They also have the power to check health records and ensure bails are granted to those who meet the criteria. If we see anything that is out of place, our role and function is to report it to the officer in charge and then a report is given to the custos. JPs must also understand that they, too, have to work with the police, according to their code of conduct."