The Government is moving ahead with plans to build a state-of-the-art adult facility to accommodate 5,000 inmates.
The project has been on the drawing board for some time, and National Security Minister, Hon. Peter Bunting, said discussions are taking place with an international partner towards the development.
He noted that the building of the facility, which will house male and females, is part of the Government’s long-term plan for correctional services to meet international standards.
"It will be a high security facility…and will allow for the closure of the obsolete Tower Street, St. Catherine and Fort Augusta facilities," he stated on Tuesday (July 17), in the contribution to the 2012/13 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives.
Mr. Bunting informed that the discussions with the international partner are aimed at providing support to the Ministry to develop a full business and economic case to commission the building of the facility; provide advice on the appropriate balance of state and privately-run services within a new multi-purpose correctional system; and the development of three-tiered specification – technical, operational, and service.
The technical specifications cover the standards the building will need to achieve and the elements to be incorporated; operational addresses the general operation of the facility and what this will achieve in terms of outcomes, including reducing reoffending and improving public safety; while service covers offender management and rehabilitative interventions and appropriate facilities management.
The Minister noted that it is important to ensure that prison sentences are rehabilitative rather than dehumanizing. "In that way there will be a better chance of former prisoners becoming productive citizens," he stated.
He said that the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) faces two serious challenges, that of inadequate accommodation and aged infrastructure, which are hampering rehabilitative efforts, resulting in non-compliance with international standards.
He noted that despite these challenges, since the start of 2011, the operations of the Department “have gone smoothly, with only one escapee, who was recaptured within four hours, and a 65 per cent reduction in violent incidents."
As of June 2012, there were 3,965 adults and 446 juveniles in custody, with 154 of these juveniles being housed at the Metcalfe Street Secure Centre.
By Chris Patterson, JIS Reporter