Plans to separate juveniles, adults in lock-ups hit a snag
The status of the work on phase one of a plan to retrofit children's detention facilities across Jamaica has hit a snag, five years after the programme was established.
The plan provides for the separation of juveniles from adults who come in conflict with the law and are placed in police lock-ups across the country.
Chairman of the Internal and External Committee of Parliament Peter Bunting, in looking at the report, said that he was saddened that all the completed units remained closed due to a list of issues.
"I must say that I am a little disappointed in the fact that none of the four units, specifically to ensure the separation of juveniles from adults in lock-ups, are operational, as they did not reach the required standards," said Bunting.
The plan was to construct new buildings or, where necessary, retrofit lock-ups that have the physical space and needed other requirements, with the initial four to be completed in the first phase, namely, Bridgeport in St Catherine; Barrett Town, St James; Moneague, St Ann; and at Nain in St Elizabeth.
CLOSED AFTER HANDOVER
"Bridgeport was actually handed over to the Jamaica Constabulary Force, but shortly thereafter, it had to be closed. This is very disappointing," said Bunting.
Various issues were still not addressed with regard to the other three facilities, including a plethora of concerns at the Barrett Town unit, the connection of the fire alarm, and repairs to a defective toilet.
There are also concerns over the fixing of a leaking roof at Barrett Town, while toilets at the Bridgeport unit have failed to work, causing sanitation issues.
The lack of ventilation of cells at the Moneague and Nain units was cause for serious concerns, with the report suggesting that it could lead to suffocation.
Committee member Floyd Green said that a ministry team will have to be brought in to clear the air on the issues.
"It is a difficulty that we have [currently] in children's services. We have had to try to employ other strategies to ensure that we are keeping our children safe, once they come in contact with the security forces," said Green.
"But you can understand the issues. I would love to hear from the Ministry of National Security and their team," he added.