Medium-risk prisoners to be transferred
Edmond Campbell, Senior Staff Reporter
WITH THE Tower Street maximum security facility housing nearly twice the number of inmates it was built to accommodate, the Government is moving to expand the Tamarind Farm correctional centre to accommodate medium-security prisoners.
Permanent secretary in the Ministry of National Security, Major General Stewart Saunders, told members of Parliament's Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on Tuesday that construction of the expanded facility at Tamarind Farm is expected to start in January 2015 and is set for completion at the end of the year.
The Tower Street Correctional Centre was built to accommodate 850 inmates but the population has ballooned to 1,583 prisoners.
Overcrowding is also plaguing the St Catherine correctional facility which was built to house 850 persons but is now accommodating 1,043.
Committee members were also advised that there are currently 105 prisoners with psychiatric problems who are unable to plead.
Saunders said some of these inmates have been incarcerated from as far back as 1960.
"We have started a process of psychiatric evaluation in order to bring them before the resident magistrate so that they can be pleaded," he said, adding that the process was being done in collaboration with the Ministry of Justice and the Attorney General's Department.
He said efforts are being made to relocate these inmates and place them into a proper environment by early next year. "Current medical trends and knowledge point to the fact that their present environment is not conducive to any form of rehabilitation and they need to be released to the community under proper care."
Meanwhile, one member of the PAC quizzed head of the Correctional Services, Ina Hunter Fairweather, about the policy concerning the production of music while behind bars.
Colin Fagan told his colleagues that there are allegations that at least one inmate has been "sending out music daily" from behind bars.
Without naming the inmate, Fagan quizzed prison officials if any inmate was allowed to produce music as part of the rehabilitation process.
However, Fairweather said she was not aware of any prisoner now serving time in jail who was currently producing music.
Quizzed about the policy of the correctional services in relation to producing music in prison, Fairweather said there is no written policy governing the issue.
She explained, however, that a particular inmate was allowed to produce music in prison towards the end of his period of incarceration. She was making reference to the artiste Jah Cure.