Mon | Oct 23, 2017

More than 400 prisoners reclassified as low risk offenders

Published:Friday | February 24, 2017 | 3:08 PM
An inmate carries chairs to a section of the Tower Street Correctional Centre in Kingston. - File

The Department of Correctional Services has reclassified more than 400 prisoners to low risk offenders for the one-year period ending January 2017.

The reclassification of prisoners is an ongoing exercise by the department to reduce the prison population at the Tower Street and St Catherine Adult Correctional Centres.

A Classification Committee carries out the exercise at each of the island’s penal institutions. Previously prisoners were reclassified by the Superintendent at each facility.

Ina Hunter-Fairweather, commissioner of the Department of Correctional Services said that when an offender is sentenced by the court to serve time, that person is sent directly from the court to the St Catherine, Tower Street or Fort Augusta Adult Correctional Centres. 

Between January and November last year, 413 of the 428 reclassified inmates were  from the Tower Street Adult Correctional Centre, Tamarind Farm and St Catherine Adult Correctional Centre.

State Minister in the Ministry of National Security, Senator Pearnel Charles Jr reiterated the importance of the reclassification exercise to the management of the correctional centres.

According to Charles Jr, at present the Tower Street and St Catherine Adult Correctional facilities are reception centres for convicted offenders.

He said the reclassification exercise is essential to reducing the burden on those institutions, as well as supporting the rehabilitation agenda by diverting inmates to specific programmes based on the outcome of their risk assessment.

The state minister further stated that the two pronged approach of electronic monitoring and the reclassification exercise will further support the government’s efforts to reduce the inmate population and recidivism in Jamaica.