Sunday, December 17, 2017

Cabinet agrees to new remand prison fast-track 10 proposals

Cabinet has accepted ten recommendations from the Special Prisons Committee, which includes the construction of a new remand prison at Golden Grove, Arouca.

On November 18, following protest action by prisoners at the Golden Grove State Prison, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar appointed the committee to inves­tigate and address issues emanating from both prison officers and prisoners.

The committee was chaired by Prof Ramesh Deosaran and comprised Prisons Commissioner Martin Martinez, Inspector of Prisons Daniel Khan, National Security Minister Gary Grif­­fith, Justice Minister Emman­uel George, Commissioner of Police Stephen Willi­ams, attorney Wayne Sturge and general secretary of the Prison Officers’ Association Ge­rard Gor­don.

On November 22, the committee submitted a report to the Prime Minister.

Yesterday, at the post-Cabinet news conference, George said Ca­bi­net agreed and accepted ten of the committee’s recom­men­­da­tions, which are to be im­plemented within a six-month time frame.

George said a technical team, comprising himself, the deputy permanent secretary in the Justice Ministry and the Prisons Commissioner, will ensure these recommendations are fast-tracked and implemented.

The first recommendation was the construction of a new remand prison.

George said Cabinet had already agreed on October 3 to the construction of a new remand prison at Gol­den Grove, and some 25 acres of land have already been identified inside Golden Grove for this project.

He said he anticipates designs would be completed by June next year, followed by construction, which should take about 18 months to complete.

To bring relief to the overcrowding pressures at the prisons, George said Cabinet also agreed that the use of the Santa Rosa correctional facility be explored.

George said one of the recommendations not accepted was the establishment of a commission of enquiry into the justice system.

Cabinet, he said, felt there were already commissions of enquiry into the justice system in the past and to have another one would be costly and may also delay measures that are to be implemented.

He said Cabinet felt it would be more appropriate and productive to discuss with the Chief Justice plans to speed up the hearing of cases of inmates and persons on remand.