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Detailing the proposed prisoner transfer deal ... Gov't provides more information

Published:Wednesday | September 30, 2015 | 12:00 AM
The Spanish Town Adult Correctional Facility ... proposed to be disposed of along with the Tower Street Adult Correctional Facility for a new maximum security faclity.

The National Security Ministry has issued a release seeking to provide more clarity on the proposed prisoner transfer deal with the United Kingdom.

British Prime Minister David Cameron has announced that Britain will be providing £25 million to help build a new prison in Jamaica to house up to 300 Jamaicans incarcerated in the United Kingdom who will complete their sentences here.

The National Security Ministry says it has signed a non-binding Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the UK to facilitate the deal.

The Ministry says the MoU is to improve the conditions under which prisoners are held in Jamaica, consistent with best practice and international human rights standards, through the construction of a maximum-security prison in Jamaica.  


- This new facility would accommodate between 1,500 and 2,000 inmates in total.  

- Provision would be made for up to 300 Jamaicans serving prison sentences in the UK, and subject to deportation at the end of their sentences, to be transferred to this new prison to complete their sentences.

Key features of the MOU:

- The Government of the UK has committed to a grant of £25 million for the construction of the new facility and a further £5.5 million towards the reintegration and resettlement of prisoners.  At current exchange rates these commitments equate to approximately $5.5 billion 

- The Jamaican Parliament would have to pass framework legislation to allow for a prisoner transfer agreement to be signed with the UK.  It is anticipated that every prisoner transfer request under the new legislation and agreement would be subject to both an administrative and judicial review process in Jamaica.

- The balance of the funding for the new prison will have to be identified by the GOJ and could include proceeds from the disposal of the Tower Street Correctional Centre and St. Catherine District Adult Correctional Centre.

Benefits to Jamaica:

- This new facility would allow the Department of Correctional Services to abandon the 17th and 19th century prisons that house thousands of Jamaican prisoners - most of whom are not hardened criminals in harsh, overcrowded and dilapidated facilities.

- The new facility will be designed and constructed with a focus on rehabilitation, which should reduce the high rates of recidivism that now occur.  It will benefit from modern architectural design and equipment that will increase both security and operational efficiency.

- Downtown Kingston will have the opportunity for a large redevelopment on the 30 acres of waterfront land now occupied by the prison.  A similar opportunity for redevelopment would be provided in Spanish Town.

The National Security Ministry says these understandings represent a good deal for Jamaica by addressing the inhumane conditions in the prison facilities without having to divert huge financial resources from education, health, or vital infrastructure. 

It said hundreds of Jamaicans deported every year having served prison sentences for drug related or violent offences in the USA or the UK, without the benefit of a structured reintegration process. 

"Accelerating the return of a small percentage of these Jamaicans through a structured rehabilitation and reintegration process is a reasonable trade-off for a dramatic improvement in our prison conditions," the Ministry said.