First Look

MOU between GOJ & UK Government to improve prison conditions in Jamaica

Ministry of National Security | 2015-09-30 00:00:00

The Government of Jamaica through the Ministry of National Security has signed a non-binding Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Government of the United Kingdom to improve the conditions under which prisoners are held in Jamaica, consistent with best practice and international human rights standards, through the construction of a maximum-security prison in Jamaica.   This new facility would accommodate between 1,500 and 2,000 inmates in total.   Provision would be made for up to three hundred Jamaicans serving prison sentences in the UK, and subject to deportation at the end of their sentences, to be transferred to this new prison to complete their sentences.

Key features of the MOU

Some important elements of the MOU are:
• The Government of the UK has committed to a grant of Twenty Five Million British Pounds for the construction of the new facility and a further Five and a Half Million British Pounds towards the reintegration and resettlement of prisoners.  At current exchange rates these commitments equate to approximately Five and a Half Billion Jamaican Dollars.
• The Jamaican Parliament would have to pass framework legislation to allow for a prisoner transfer agreement to be signed with the UK.  It is anticipated that every prisoner transfer request under the new legislation and agreement would be subject to both an administrative and judicial review process in Jamaica.
• The balance of the funding for the new prison will have to be identified by the GOJ and could include proceeds from the disposal of the Tower Street Correctional Centre and St. Catherine District Adult Correctional Centre.

Benefits to Jamaica:
There are substantial benefits that would accrue to Jamaica:
• This new facility would allow the Department of Correctional Services to abandon the 17th and 19th century prisons that house thousands of Jamaican prisoners - most of whom are not hardened criminals - in harsh, overcrowded and dilapidated facilities.
• The new facility will be designed and constructed with a focus on rehabilitation, which should reduce the high rates of recidivism that now occur.  It will benefit from modern architectural design and equipment that will increase both security and operational efficiency.
• Downtown Kingston will have the opportunity for a large greenfield redevelopment on the thirty acres of waterfront land now occupied by the prison.  A similar opportunity for redevelopment would be provided in Spanish Town.

The Ministry of National Security believes these understandings represent a good deal for Jamaica by addressing the inhumane conditions in our prison facilities without having to divert huge financial resources from education, health, or vital infrastructure.  There are hundreds of Jamaicans deported every year to Jamaica, having served prison sentences for drug related or violent offences in the USA or the UK, without the benefit of a structured reintegration process.  Accelerating the return of a small percentage of these Jamaicans through a structured rehabilitation and reintegration process is a reasonable trade-off for a dramatic improvement in our prison conditions.

Posted By :Gillian Haughton

Company Name : Ministry of National Security

Website :

Company Address : 2 Oxford Road, Kingston 5

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