JIS News

Story Highlights

  • Minister of National Security, Hon. Peter Bunting, says there is need for a modern, purpose-built prison, to improve the conditions under which inmates are held.
  • He was responding to questions regarding a non-binding Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the United Kingdom (UK) for the possible construction of a maximum security prison in Jamaica, at a Jamaica House press briefing on October 7.
  • Mr. Bunting told journalists that the motivation for the agreement with the UK “is primarily to modernise our correctional facilities.”

Minister of National Security, Hon. Peter Bunting, says there is need for a modern, purpose-built prison, to improve the conditions under which inmates are held.

He was responding to questions regarding a non-binding Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the United Kingdom (UK) for the possible construction of a maximum security prison in Jamaica, at a Jamaica House press briefing on October 7.

Mr. Bunting told journalists that the motivation for the agreement with the UK “is primarily to modernise our correctional facilities.”

He pointed out that Jamaica has a prison population of 3, 900 persons, 70 per cent of whom are low to medium risk, and serving sentences of between three months to three years.

“Those persons may become hardened and bitter by the time they have completed their sentences in the conditions that we hold them under,” Mr. Bunting contended.

He noted that if the Government was able to fund the construction of a facility out of the country’s budget “we would have done that and there would be no argument.”

The Security Minster said that while there is “nothing certain” the construction of the proposed prison is the “only way, in the medium-term, to correct a situation that is offensive to the dignity and human rights of our own people, that we have incarcerated now.”

A release from the Ministry of National Security, said the proposal is for construction of a facility to accommodate between 1, 500 and 2,000 inmates.

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 facility to complete their sentences.

The Government of the UK has committed a grant of £25 million for the construction of the new facility.

Under the MoU signed, a further £5.5 million is to be provided by the UK towards the reintegration and resettlement of prisoners.