Saturday 24 October, 2020

More than 60 COVID-19 cases in the island's prison system - Samuda

The Tower Street Adult Correctional Centre in Kingston.

The Tower Street Adult Correctional Centre in Kingston.

The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the island’s prison system now stands at 61.

The number includes 37 members of the correctional services staff and 24 inmates. Eleven of the inmates have since recovered.

This was revealed on Thursday by Minister Without Portfolio in the Ministry of National Security, Matthew Samuda, during a virtual press conference.

Samuda informed that a total of 128 employees were tested for the virus with seven results pending. He said a total of 271 inmates were tested.

With the number of positive cases among prison staff and inmates increasing and cognizant of the fact that the facilities are crowded, Samuda told the media conference that the Government was examining the possibility of releasing some inmates who are being held at the courts’ pleasure. These inmates are usually declared unfit to plead and as such many end up spending years behind bars without charge. There have been calls for the government to consider releasing some low risk prisoners in light of the increasing number of positive cases among the prison population.

Samuda said talks are ongoing with representatives of the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Courts and the Ministry of Justice with a view to arriving at an agreement.

“Conversations are ongoing and plans are nearing completion for these inmates to be held in alternate facilities,” the minister said.

In the meantime, Samuda said 630 inmates are currently eligible for parole, but he stressed this did not mean they would be released. Roughly 150 inmates are released each year.

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