The Technical Team, established by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar SC, with the mandate of implementing Cabinet decisions resulting from the Report of the Special Prisons Committee, has delivered a status update on many ongoing works.
The Chairman of the Technical Team, the Honourable Emmanuel George, Minister of Justice, as well as other members of the team were joined by the Honourable Minister of Housing and Urban Development, Dr Roodal Moonilal at the Office of the Prime Minister, St. Clair Avenue, St Clair this morning. The Minister of Justice wishes to stress that substantial progress has been made on all items and many are close to completion.
Some of the key issues being addressed are as follows:
· Provision of bullet and stab proof vests for prison officers
A contract for bullet and stab proof vests has been awarded and will be delivered in October 2014. Issuance to prison officers will be immediate upon delivery.
· Provision of Firearm User’s Licence to prison officers
There has been an 80% increase in the issuance of Firearm User’s Licences to prison officers in 2014 compared to 2013. These numbers continue to increase even while the established risk assessment protocols are observed before issuing such licences.
· Ongoing distribution of housing to prison officers
Prison officers are being supplied with emergency housing in instances where their lives may be at risk. Additionally, prison officers are being supplied with personal housing through the normal allocation processes of the HDC.
· Use of Force Policy and Training
To date, approximately 400 prison officers have benefitted from this training programme. Training of additional officers is still ongoing and yearly refresher courses will be implemented. Regular reports will also be generated in order to measure the success of the programme.
· Installation of beds, toilets and additional structural upgrades
Commissioner of Prisons confirmed that 44 beds have been installed in the South Wing while the North Wing is currently being outfitted with new beds.
Cells are also receiving lighting and plumbing upgrades to facilitate new toilet facilities. Refurbishments are being completed with sanitation of each area as well as small aesthetic improvements which include painting and tiling.
Apart from individual cells, common areas are also receiving an upgrade with the installation of new stainless steel toilets.
· Expanded use of the Eastern Correctional Rehabilitation Centre (ECRC)
Use of the ECRC is being explored to provide relief from overcrowding for persons in the prison system. The Ministry of Justice is seeking to purchase the property at a cost of TT $230M and in this regard, agreement has been reached with the owner. The Chief State Solicitor is finalizing the required legal document.
August 18, 2014