Port Authority of Jamaica gives correctional services more time to relocate
Tyrone Reid, Senior Staff Reporter
The Port Authority of Jamaica has offered a stay of execution to the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) which had been given a December 2012 deadline to close the Fort Augusta Adult Correctional Centre.
Sunday Gleaner sources say the deadline to close the prison, which houses approximately 250 women, has been extended, but a new date has not yet been set.
Ever since the December deadline was communicated to the DCS, its parent ministry, the Ministry of National Security, has reportedly been scrambling to buy more time.
The Sunday Gleaner sources say the ministry had to push for an extension as it has not identified or prepared a new home for the women housed at the island's sole female penal facility.
So far, there has been no official word from the security ministry on the forced move, despite repeated attempts by The Sunday Gleaner to get a comment.
However, a source close to the unfolding saga confirmed that the DCS has been given a break.
"The December deadline has changed. It has been pushed back. And the DCS hasn't been given a new date. That information came from the Port Authority," said the source, who asked not to be named.
in a quandary
Last month, highly placed sources revealed that the DCS and its parent ministry were caught between a rock and a hard place after the landlords told them that they had to close up shop at Fort Augusta by year end.
Since then, minister with responsibility for the Port Authority, Dr Omar Davies, has gone public, denying that a December timeline had been set.
However, recent signs of male prisoners being moved out of the South Camp Adult Correctional Centre prompted speculation that the DCS had decided to go with one of three options on the table by relocating the women to that facility.
But this is yet to be confirmed by the prison authority.
The other options on the table now are to relocate the women to either the Tower Street or St Catherine Adult correctional facilities.
The land containing Jamaica's sole female prison, as well as surrounding parcels, was sold to the Port Authority close to a decade ago as part of redevelopment plans for the Port of Kingston.
Davies recently announced that the Port Authority has received a proposal from China Harbour Engineering Company Limited which expressed an interest in providing private capital to develop a new container terminal on the land already owned by the authority, as well as land to be created by dredging the sea near Fort Augusta.