Jamaica to build new $8b prison

July 30, 2021
The Tower Street Adult Correctional Centre in downtown Kingston.
The Tower Street Adult Correctional Centre in downtown Kingston.

At least $8 billion will be spent to build a new prison, which will replace the Tower Street Adult Correctional Centre located in Kingston.

Minister of National Security, Dr Horace Chang, said lands have already been identified for what is said to be a state-of-the-art correctional facility.

"Tower Street is to be replaced. We are going to build a new prison ..... It's an expensive programme, so we had to slow down a bit [due to] the economic realities, but it is not suitable for occupation in the long run," Chang said.

Tower Street Adult Correctional Centre, formerly the General Penitentiary, was built in the 1840's to accommodate 650 male inmates, but has held over 1700 on occasions.

"Tower Street was ... a slave trade post, it was never designed for regular occupation," Chang said.

The minister further said that discussions are at the early stages regarding construction. The new modern facility "will be a properly designed prison that will be secure and meet the standards required for occupancy in all areas".

In 2015, then national security minister Peter Bunting announced the building of a new prison to be built on lands next to the Tamarind Farm Prison in St Catherine.

At the time, Bunting said the new prison, for which a price tag of about $10 billion was quoted, would house between 15,000 and 20,000 prisoners. However, the project never got off the ground due to strong opposition to a grant from the UK Government to build the facility.

British Prime Minister David Cameron, who had visited Jamaica, said his Government was committing PS25 million to the building of the new prison, which would also house persons convicted in the UK who are sent to Jamaica to serve their sentences. However, the gift was viewed as an insult to the descendants of enslaved Africans.

Cameron, who ignored calls to apologise for Britain's role in slavery, said it was time for Jamaica to "move on from this painful legacy and continue to build for the future".

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