Ministry Addressing Overcrowding in Prisons


The Ministry of National Security is moving to address the overcrowding in the island’s Adult Correctional Service Centres by repairing these facilities and revising the classification of inmates.
Minister of National Security, Dr. Peter Phillips who was before the Standing Finance Committee on Tuesday, April 6 at Gordon House said, “what we are seeking to do is first of all repair some of the buildings so that they can be made applicable and reduce the congestion”.
The Minister was responding to questions from Delroy Chuck, Member of Parliament of St. Andrew North Eastern who pointed out that the institutions were “woefully” overcrowded.
Dr. Phillips told the committee that the Ministry was also looking at reviewing the classification of prisoners to address overcrowding. “We are looking at the reclassification of prisoners and transferring them to other institutions, along side that, we are trying to upgrade some of the security arrangements at some of the other institutions so that it can take some of the less dangerous prisoners out there”.
The Minister said that currently in the system, reclassification of prisoners was done twice per month. However, Mr. Chuck said that this should be done more frequently, adding that the overcrowding was a result of short-term prisoners being sent to District prisons.
“Probably 40 per cent of the prison population right now should not be in prison, for the simple reason, they are there because they can’t pay the fines. These are not high risk prisoners, the Court has fined them but they can’t pay the fine so they are there,” Mr. Chuck pointed out.
Minister Phillips also disclosed that another solution to the overcrowding was the construction of a new penal institution.
Answering questions about the parole system, Dr. Phillips said: “We are going to be undertaking a review of the parole system because we actually believe that we need to develop a system where any person who reaches the point of eligibility should automatically receive a hearing and the discretion about the hearing should be removed”.

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