Prison condition grabs mayor's attention

Published: Saturday | January 19, 2013 Comments 0

Jodi-Ann Gilpin, Gleaner Writer

TWO HUNDRED and twelve inmates using less than a dozen showers in two and a half hours at the Tower Street Adult Correctional Centre were some of the conditions that prompted Mayor of Kingston Angela Brown Burke to step in and provide assistance.

She joined forces with the Prison Ministry in building an additional water-tank facility at the correctional facility in Kingston following her visit at the institution recently.

"I can't imagine the tension and the quarrel that happen when these inmates get the two hours to bathe and wash their clothes, that time and space is just not enough," she declared.

"When you look at some of the cells, believe me, three persons can hardly stand in that cell much less sleep. The third person actually has to sleep in a hammock attached to the ceiling and sometimes they even fall out of it while sleeping and that really touched me. We really have to do better than that," she said.

She recommended that more should be done to focus on the inmates' social skills and not just rehabilitation programmes.

"The purpose of rehabilitation is to prevent persons from coming back and so we have to do more in focusing on the whole person, physical, mental and emotional," she said.

"Overcrowding is the biggest problem and especially in terms of rehabilitation, what I learnt is that because of the inadequate space, rehabilitation programmes can only be introduced when the inmates are close to leaving, which is very sad," she said.

Brown Burke also outlined her plan to assist in the development process at the institution.

Computer lab main focus

"My aim is to focus especially on their computer lab as I want to emphasise the importance of technology and ICT, so I'm planning to meet with the technology minister to see how best we develop their lab," she noted.

Lieutenant Colonel Sean Prendergast, head of the Department of Correctional Services, admitted that various problems existed and expressed gratitude for the assistance.

"There was a particular need in this area and we wanted to address this one first, and as we know we can't always depend on the funding that is allocated to us, so we are always seeking help in whatever way possible," he said.

"The mayor was gracious enough to visit and has made a commitment to assist us in this area, so we are grateful for that," Prendergast added.

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