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Govt in talks to buy Santa Rosa centre for $230m

By Juhel Browne CCN Senior Multimedia Journalist

 Justice Minister Emmanuel George says the State is seeking to purchase the facility that now hou­ses the Eastern Correctional Reha­bilitation Centre (ECRC) in Santa Rosa for “approximately $230 million”.

“We pay, I think it’s about $850,000 a month, but the inten­tion is to purchase it and that pur­­­-

chase should take place in the next

...should be completed in the next three to four months,” George said.

He made the disclosure in response to a question from TV6 News, during an interview with the media at the Justice Ministry’s annual sports day, at the Prison Ser­vice Sports Ground in Arouca on Saturday.

The ECRC was rented by the Go­­v­ernment in 2011 to house detainees held during the State of Emergency that year and has since been assigned for the detention of prisoners whose prison terms are close to an end.

“Some of them, maybe, have six months to go on their sentences, maybe a year, perhaps two years. So they are being groomed to come back into the society,” said George.

“As we speak, discussions are going on for the purchase of the faci­lity because the Government is of the view that the purchase of the facility would be advantageous to the Prison Service,” he added.

At a Prison Service

sports day on May 19, 2012, then-na­tion­al secu­rity minister Brigadier John Sandy said the State was at that time in negotiations with the owners of the ECRC facility to purchase it.

Then acting prison commission­er Martin Martinez said the ECRC could hold 400 inmates but at that time housed 117 inmates.

On Saturday, George said the Justice Ministry has been in discussions with who he would only identify as “the owner” of the ECRC facility for the purchase of the compound by the State.

Asked as to how much the purchase of the ECRC is expected to cost, George said: “Approximately $230 million.” 

He said that on Friday, he, along with Finance Minister Larry Howai and the owner of the ECRC facility, was in discussions “seeking to find a means to fund its purchase”.

“The Ministry of Justice did not have in its budget for this year any sums allocated for this particular purchase. So we have to find some innovative way, either by borrowing or perhaps by getting it out of the Consolidated Fund, the funding of the purchase of the facility, but the Government is actively pursuing the purchase of the facility,” George said.

He said he could not comment on the concerns raised by Eleanor Donaldson-Honeywell SC, while she was the solicitor general, that an investigation be launched to determine whether or not attorneys involved in prison litigation were engaged in an “unethical business practice” as that matter is now before Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Roger Gaspard.

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