JIS News

National Security Minister, Dr. Peter Phillips, said yesterday (Sept. 16) that the Ministry was in the final stages of completing the tender process to begin construction of a new maximum-security facility in Jamaica.
“Shortly, we expect to take to Cabinet the results of that tender process and I expect in the very near future, we will be able to start the task of constructing a new, modern correctional facility,” Minister Phillips said.
The Minister’s comments came during his keynote address at an appreciation function to honour staff of the Department of Correctional Services, who stayed on the job during and in the aftermath of Hurricane Ivan last year. The function was held at the Jamaica Conference Centre downtown Kingston. The Security Minister told the correctional officers that his Ministry was cognizant that “in our maximum-security facilities, the conditions under which you work are patently inadequate and you continue to place yourselves and the nation at risk.”
“We are determined to provide a modern maximum-security,” he declared, adding that, “we can’t proceed without putting appropriate facilities in place both to facilitate those who serve and those who need to be rehabilitated in your institutions.”
Some 1, 140 correctional officers from penal institutions and juvenile facilities received certificates of appreciation and were lauded for their sterling service during the passage of the hurricane.
The Minister praised the response of the staff as being exemplary and demonstrated their selflessness and commitment to their jobs.
“Before, during, and after the passage of Ivan, the team took the necessary steps to minimise as far as possible any damage to property, personal effects, or to staff and inmates, or to the livestock and the crops,” he pointed out, adding that, “notably, there were no escapes, no injuries and no deaths within the correctional system as a result of the hurricane.”
He further said that while it was the natural desire of individuals to feel compelled to be with their families and to secure their properties during a hurricane, the correctional officers made the sacrifice to stay on the job to safeguard against the likelihood of a threat to law and order.
“Team members ranging from the rank of correctional officers and also including eight civilian staff in the juvenile (system), not only remained on staff during the storm, but in many cases, did double shifts when others could not get to come to work,” Dr. Phillips said.
Meanwhile, the National Security Minister revealed that the estimated cost to repair damaged correctional facilities was $104 million.
He noted that post-Ivan repair work had been carried at the New Broughton Sunset Adult Correctional Centre in Manchester. The facility, which was significantly damaged, was rehabilitated through assistance from the United Church of Jamaica and Grand Cayman. It will now be able to house 80 inmates.
In addition, the Tower Street, Tamarind Farm, Richmond Farm, Fort Augusta, and Armadale Junior Correctional facilities suffered varying infrastructural damage, and rehabilitation work is in progress.
Dr. Phillips said that following Ivan, “staff members spearheaded most of the reconstruction activities while inmates provided manual and skilled labour and today, over 50 per cent of all repairs have been completed.”