Minister of National Security, Senator the Hon. Dwight Nelson has informed that the Metcalfe Street Juvenile Remand facility for boys, in Kingston, should be ready for occupation by March this year.
The Minister, who was speaking at a Private Sector Organisation Jamaica (PSOJ) Chairman’s Club Forum, at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel, in Kingston, on February 1, informed that the facility is almost completed.
Being refurbished by the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF), the facility forms part of the Government’s efforts to provide adequate accommodation for boys placed in the custody of the State by the Courts, as well as those awaiting appearance before, or a determination by the Courts. Upon completion, it will be able to house more than 200 boys.
“We think that this is important because there are 347 juveniles in the correctional facilities that we have. We will be able to remove all the juveniles from police lockups and from prisons and put them in this facility, because we accept that juveniles ought to have a dedicated facility,” the Minister said.
In the meantime, Senator Nelson noted that the government is seeking to partner with local and international agencies for the construction and financing of maximum security correctional facilities.
Citing the need for new facilities, he lamented that the island’s two major adult maximum security prisons were overcrowded. They are the Tower Street Adult Correctional Centre, in Kingston, and the St. Catherine Adult Correctional Centre.
“Tower Street has an ideal capacity for 850 prisoners, the muster today is 1,682. The other maximum security prison is St. Catherine, which also has an ideal capacity of 850, and we have put 1,244 prisoners in that institution,” he said, adding that both institutions are over 100 years old.
Senator Nelson said the government is aware of the overcrowding that currently exists; however, it lacks the necessary funds to construct new facilities, without assistance. The Minister said the administration is exploring every opportunity to get help to build these prisons.
CONTACT: CHRIS PATTERSON