KINGSTON — Minister of National Security, Senator the Hon. Dwight Nelson, says he is satisfied with the refurbishing work being done at the Metcalfe Street Juvenile Remand Centre for Boys, West Kingston, by the Jamaica Defence Force’s (JDF) Engineering Regiment.
Senator Nelson indicated his satisfaction while addressing a media briefing at the facility, following a tour with journalists and members of the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) and the JDF, on Tuesday April 5.
The project, funded by the Government at a cost of $168 million, is being spearheaded by the Ministry of National Security in an effort to relocate approximately108 juveniles, aged 13 to 17 years, currently detained in police lock-ups.
Work on the facility started in April 2010 and is slated for completion soon, according to Acting Commissioner of Corrections, Lt. Colonel Sean Prendergast, who led Tuesday’s tour.
He said that, on completion, the facility will accommodate approximately 208 male juveniles offenders, and will be staffed by some 347 persons, including uniformed officers and civilians, to ensure that it runs on a 24-hour seven-day a week schedule. One batch of officers is currently training at the DCS’ Carl Rattary Staff College Runaway Bay, St. Ann, and civilians are now being recruited.
The Acting Commissioner said some of the main features include an administrative block, incorporating a medical centre, doctor’s office and examination room. Additionally, it will house the managerial and clerical staff, a dormitory on the top floor for low risk remandees and a visiting area. Other features include: operations room; three 4-storey dormitory buildings, with two dorms on each floor; classroom block with four class rooms on the ground floor and a multi-purpose area on the top floor; a multi-purpose court to facilitate games such as basketball, volleyball and scrimmage football; a kitchen; and a changing room for the staff.
Lt. Col. Prendergast said a 60,000 gallon water tank has also been installed, to stem challenges associated with the availability of water, and specially designed penal toilets.
“They are penal toilets that do not carry a tank, or any working mechanisms inside the dorms. So, if you look at it, it’s very difficult for these toilets to be tampered with by… a juvenile, or (for) pieces (to be) taken out to make weapons,” he elaborated.
Lt. Col Prendergast pointed out that the centre, previously an adult remand facility bordered by Hannah Town, Wilton Gardens (Rema), and Trench Town, has been designed in such a way that the juveniles can be secured, but are able to interact, in meaningful way, with the community.
Commenting on the work, Senator Nelson, described the expenditure as “money well spent”, and commended the JDF’s efforts to keep the development within budget.
He described the complex as a “remarkable development”, and pointed out that it is not only intended for housing the juvenile offenders, but also for their recreational and educational development. Additionally, he said it will also cater to the well-being of the staff, which is “important in terms of how staff react and respond to the juveniles”.
“I think that is money well spent, in the cause of the development and better care and better treatment of juveniles,” Senator Nelson asserted.
By DOUGLAS McINTOSH, JIS Reporter