The South Camp Road Rehabilitation Centre, in Kingston, is being renovated at a cost of $65 million to accommodate the island's female inmates and juveniles.
This facility previously housed male inmates, but is being remodelled to accommodate inmates from the sole female prison – Fort Augusta.
The land on which Fort Augusta is located, as well as surrounding parcels, were sold to the Port Authority, as part of redevelopment plans for the Port of Kingston.
In August, most of the prisoners from the South Camp Road Rehabilitation Centre were relocated to other correctional facilities. Approximately seven male inmates are still being housed at the centre.
During a tour of the facility on September 25, Minister of Youth and Culture, Hon. Lisa Hanna, said she is "satisfied" with the work that is being undertaken at the institution, especially as juvenile girls will be housed separately from adult women.
"For the most part, I think we are satisfied that the juvenile girls will be separately housed from the adult women, including recreational and vocational facilities, which is something that we wanted to come and see for ourselves," she said.
While unable to give a timeline for completion, Minister of National Security, Hon. Peter Bunting, commended the Commissioner of Corrections, Lt. Colonel Sean Prendergast and his team for the work they have been doing on the facility.
"This perhaps is the most modern adult facility that we have, which is why we have decided to convert it to accommodate both the juvenile girls as well as the women, and even though it may seem a bit harsh, as it was designed for males, there will be modifications in the operations," he said.
"For example, even though you may see grill doors on the cells, they will not be locked when it is being utilised for women and girls, but we have to retain that capability because hopefully in the medium term, we will be able to build a specialised facility for juvenile girls and for women, and then this facility would revert to one for men, because it is still a better facility than either Tower Street or Spanish Town," the Minister added.
Mr. Bunting informed that the current workshop area will be reconfigured to provide more classroom space, "because there may not be the need for the women to have the welding and the woodwork areas."
For his part, Minister of Justice, Senator the Hon. Mark Golding, said work is still ongoing as to "how to minimise the stay of any juvenile in a lock-up before going to a specialised juvenile facility."
The facility will be able to accommodate 250 inmates, including 96 female juveniles.
Accompanying the Ministers were members of the Inter-Ministerial Working Group examining issues pertaining to children who come in conflict with the law, Ministry officials and members of the Department of Correctional Services.
The touring party visited various sites on the compound, including cell areas, welding shop, computer lab, tailor and woodwork shop, among others.