37 correctional officers, 24 inmates have tested positive for COVID-19
Some 37 members of the correctional services and 24 inmates, in total, have tested positive for the coronavirus (COVID-19).
This was disclosed by Minister Without Portfolio in the Ministry of National Security, Matthew Samuda, while addressing a digital press conference today.
Samuda said some 128 employees were tested for the virus with the results of seven currently pending.
He also revealed that a total of 271 inmates were tested.
Eleven of the positive prisoners have recovered.
Meanwhile, Samuda said that the Government is actively looking at persons who are being held at the courts’ pleasure with a view to release, in particular instances, some of these inmates.
Concerns have been raised in recent months that several persons have been in custody for years at the courts’ pleasure.
These persons are typically held because they were deemed to be unfit to enter a plea.
Samuda said that there is an active dialogue with the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Courts, and the Ministry of Justice on the matter.
“Conversations are ongoing and plans are nearing completion for these inmates to be held in alternate facilities.”
Samuda also divulged that there are groups of persons within the penal system who should not have been incarcerated for the period that they have been imprisoned.
“They are our priorities in terms of moving through the legal system to ensure that they are released on a case-by-case basis in an appropriate time.”
He also said that the Government was taking steps to establish a prison infirmary “for inmates who stay long enough with us to become infirm and need particular care. We are also very clear that we also need to move rapidly with the development of a forensic ward to deal with mentally-challenged inmates.”
He mentioned that 16 inmates are bed-ridden, two of which are being held at the courts’ pleasure.
In the meantime, Samuda noted that about 630 inmates are currently eligible for parole.
However, Samuda said that eligibility for parole does not necessarily mean that they would be released.
About 150 persons are released annually.
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