Tuesday 24 November, 2020

Gov't moves to criminalise the use of cell phones by prisoners

Photo: iStock

Photo: iStock

The ability of inmates to continue to direct their criminal operations from behind prison walls with the use of cellular phones will soon be significantly curtailed.

This, as the Government is taking steps to amend the outdated Corrections Act, specifically as it relates to the possession and use of contraband inside penal institutions.

Minister without portfolio in the Ministry of National Security, Senator Matthew Samuda, said the amendments will result in criminal charges being levelled against inmates found in possession of contraband.

“The ministry will soon carry to the Cabinet, for its approval, the new Act to govern the correctional services. We expect to have this tabled in Parliament for debate and subsequent approval in no longer than three months,” said Samuda. He was speaking Friday during a media briefing hosted by the ministry.

Samuda said the new Act “...will create a modern legal framework for us to operate within, and will give the men and women who lead the correctional services the tools that they desperately need to ensure they run the correctional services in a particular manner”.

Some of Jamaica’s most dangerous prisoners, including murderers and gang leaders, have been known to order hits from behind bars, and to continue running extortion rackets while serving lengthy prison sentences. These reports go back several years.

In June, National Security Minister Dr Horace Chang told the parliament that these inmates should soon find their ability to do so significantly curtailed as 24 such prisoners were identified and were subsequently moved to newly constructed cells.

“We will have all the high-value criminals in a place where they can no longer give instructions,” Chang stated.

The new prison cells are reportedly equipped with technology that blocks communication signals.

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