Wed | Oct 20, 2021

Chang pitches new $10b prison - DBJ to spearhead funding plan for high-tech facility

Published:Wednesday | February 24, 2021 | 12:27 AMJanet Silvera/Senior Gleaner Writer

WESTERN BUREAU: A new prison expected to replace the Tower Street Adult Correctional Centre is to be constructed in St Catherine at an estimated cost of J$10 billion. The project will be executed by the Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ), which has...

WESTERN BUREAU:

A new prison expected to replace the Tower Street Adult Correctional Centre is to be constructed in St Catherine at an estimated cost of J$10 billion.

The project will be executed by the Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ), which has been tasked with securing funding for its construction and structural design, Minister of National Security Dr Horace Chang told journalists at a Gleaner Editors’ Forum on Tuesday.

The prison will accommodate up to 3,000 inmates in addition to correctional personnel at the high-security facility.

WATCH: New prison on the horizon

“It will be done with local money. They have been delegated to look at the site, and getting the design, finance and structural things done,” the security minister said of the DBJ.

The minister said though that further number-crunching would determine some hard numbers in relation to the urgently needed facility, meaning the proposed budget could either go up or down.

In the meantime, DBJ Managing Director Milverton Reynolds confirmed the discussions with the national security ministry, noting that the talks were preliminary, while the bank mulled over financing options.

The DBJ executive would not confirm the $10-billion estimate, stating that assessments relating to the design, cost and financing options are to be finalised after feasibility studies are conducted.

The news comes two weeks after former Commissioner of Police Owen Ellington told The Gleaner that a modern prison facility did not have to be as expensive as had been forecast.

Suggesting that the facility be built in a remote area in the Clarendon or St Catherine plains, Ellington said there should be limited access, with CCTV monitoring, Internet and telephone service, but no cellular phone facility.

“Prisoners can be kept in prison and they can be prevented from ongoing communication with the rest of the population, and those who want to visit them know that they are travelling on a limited access road, which is heavily surveilled and monitored by law enforcement,” Ellington said.

The former police commissioner rejected the resurrection of talks with the British government, which had offered to build a prison for Jamaica in 2015 in a deal that involved early deportation and accommodation for the returnees.

Instead, Ellington made reference to a prison in Arizona, USA, where wire fencing has been used to construct a penitentiary.

A new prison could have natural deterrents like an inlet filled with crocodiles.

“It does not have to be a country club; it is a place for confined people who have forfeited their freedom, because they have broken the laws of the country,” he cautioned.

His comments were supported by former Deputy Commissioner of Police Novelette Grant, who proffered that there were many models that could be designed, built and operated without breaking the bank.

“What we have to do is plan for it,” she argued.

janet.silvera@gleanerjm.com