Female ward being monitored after trying to end her life
Livern Barrett, Gleaner Writer
JAMAICAN PRISON officials have admitted that a female ward of the State who is being housed at the Fort Augusta prison in St Catherine attempted to kill herself in the past week.
Prison boss Lt Col Sean Prendergast, who was responding to claims by the teenager's mother that she was on a suicide watch after several attempts to kill herself, said the 14-year-old "was cutting herself".
"She has since been placed on heightened monitoring," Prendergast revealed yesterday, denying that the female ward was placed on a suicide watch.
Just over two weeks ago, three wards of the State who were being housed at the Horizon Adult Remand Centre, in St Andrew, overdosed on antidepressants as they attempted to end their lives.
They have been since relocated to the University Hospital of the West Indies under the care of psychiatrist Dr Wendel Abel.
Six weeks ago, 16-year-old ward of the State Vanessa Wint reportedly used a bed sheet to hang herself at the same prison.
In the latest incident, Sara Lee Mitchell, the mother of the female ward, claimed she has not been officially notified about her daughter's status and has to be relying on information from persons inside Fort Augusta.
SEVERAL SUICIDE ATTEMPTS
Mitchell said she has been informed that her daughter has attempted suicide several times by cutting her wrist and taking pills.
"I ask her for the pills and she not giving me dem. I want her out of there," said Mitchell, charging that her daughter was committed to Fort Augusta through a correctional order signed by a judge without her consent.
Prendergast confirmed that a correctional order was issued for the teen, who was labelled "uncontrollable".
Mitchell said during a visit on Monday, her daughter was in tears, saying "she wanted to go home. She is not happy. She is not being treated good and that she didn't do anything to deserve to be in there".
Said Mitchell: "I am terrified and very worried right now about my daughter."
Mitchell said she has visited the all-female prison several times and blasted the conditions there.
"They say they put them there to rehabilitate them, but there is no form of rehabilitation taking place over there.
"They are taking the children from their parents and don't have the correct facilities, not just to facilitate them physically, but psychologically," she added.
But Prendergast, who is the commissioner of corrections, dismissed the claim, saying the female ward now has some stability at Fort Augusta.
"She has a lot of activity to keep her busy," he insisted.