JIS News

Some 44 inmates, from four of the island’s correctional institutions, yesterday (July 10) participated in a major outdoor clean-up exercise at the Fort Augusta Adult Correctional Centre in Port Henderson, St. Catherine.
The clean-up exercise, executed under the watchful eyes of more than 60 staff members of the islands correctional facilities and the police, fall under the expanded Inmate Public Work Programme, which is a specialized work programme that has been in existence since November 2007, and which assists the correctional services to implement effective rehabilitation of inmates.
Deputy Commissioner of Corrections with responsibility for Custodial Services, June Jarrett explained to JIS News that the scope of works included bushing property from the entrance up to the gates of the fort, clearing spillways, removing debris, chopping down overgrown trees and cleaning the moat. This she said would enhance the aesthetics of the facility.
Allaying the fears of members of the public about security, Deputy Commissioner Jarrett gave the assurance that there was no need for worry as due diligence was observed. “All the inmates who are out here have been risk assessed. We looked at their security levels as we can’t put any and any individual on a project like this and I’m confident that there will be no escape,” she said.
She noted that there is significant benefit to the state with programmes of this nature as it would cost a “tidy sum” to carry out this exercise using private contractors. “We have to help ourselves and it has also helped the inmates as we pay them $150 per day. If we had hired someone to come we would have paid maybe five times the cost so they are benefiting and so are we,” she stated.
The programme has seen work being done in the parishes of St. Catherine, Kingston and St. Andrew, St. Mary and Manchester, so far. Last year the programme went to the Zion Hill Primary and Junior High in St. Mary where the entire school was painted, the compound was cleared, and kitchen gardens were established. The Beecham Hill Primary and Infant School also in St Mary benefited as well on Labour Day, when the inmates cleaned and painted, cleared debris and created a playing field.
Inmates participating in the exercise said they were pleased to be out of the prison surroundings and doing some real work. Lukel, an inmate serving a six-year sentence at the Spanish Town Correctional Centre had high praise for the programme and the opportunity it gave him. “We not making nuh wrong move because everyday we in prison jus’ a look pon de same man dem and a do de same things so we not going let down the prison authorities. We jus come out, enjoy the work with a willing heart and goh back in to let the rest of prison mate know that it’s a good thing we doing,” he said.
The participants are expected to go on to the 100-man police station and the White Marl Primary and Junior High to do additional work before heading back to their holding areas and then shuttled to their respective facilities.