$75m spend on lock-ups cre­ates more de­fects

Jamaica Gleaner - - NEWS - Christo­pher Serju Gleaner Writer christo­pher.serju@glean­erjm.com

TAX­PAY­ERS WILL have to fork over an ad­di­tional $32 mil­lion to bring a num­ber of ju­ve­nile de­ten­tion fa­cil­i­ties up to min­i­mum ac­cept­able stan­dards be­fore they can be com­mis­sioned into ser­vice, a rev­e­la­tion that left law­mak­ers stunned on Tues­day. This is be­cause after be­ing handed over to the Ja­maica Con­stab­u­lary Force since 2015 when they were retro­fit­ted at a cost of $75 mil­lion, the fa­cil­i­ties have been un­oc­cu­pied.

Mem­bers of the In­ter­nal and Ex­ter­nal Af­fairs Com­mit­tee of Par­lia­ment were flab­ber­gasted that after an ini­tial $75-mil­lion spend at lock-ups in Bar­rett Town, St James; Nain, St El­iz­a­beth; Bridge­port, St El­iz­a­beth; and Moneague in St Ann, the fa­cil­i­ties were nowhere nearer to be ready to be oc­cu­pied. And when Mitsy Beau­mont-Da­ley, act­ing chief tech­ni­cal direc­tor in the Min­istry of Na­tional Se­cu­rity, an­nounced that $17 mil­lion had been ap­proved in the 201718 Bud­get to be­gin rem­e­dy­ing the de­fects that oc­curred as re­sult of the re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion, Colin Fa­gan voiced his dis­con­tent.

“Why would we now be re­pair­ing fa­cil­i­ties that we did not use?” the mem­ber of par­lia­ment for South East St Cather­ine asked. “What would have hap­pened to the mon­i­tor­ing of the build­ings? Why are we just find­ing out that these things were not in place?”

This was the con­cern ex­pressed by com­mit­tee mem­bers after Beau­mont-Da­ley an­nounced the raft of de­fects com­mon to all the lock-ups, as fol­lows: There were signs of paint flak­ing from the walls The roofs leaked pro­fusely, es­pe­cially at Moneague The ven­ti­la­tion open­ings were too small The doors are cov­ered by steel plates. Fire hose reels are in­ap­pro­pri­ately placed in spa­ces al­lot­ted for chil­dren

Top bunks of beds are with­out rails Sharp edges through­out the fa­cil­i­ties

As it re­lates to the ameni­ties,

Each cell had the pe­nal in­sti­tu­tion-type lava­tory basin and wa­ter closet The combo toi­let did not work in any of the sta­tions vis­ited Some smoke de­tec­tors were seen, but the num­bers were in­ad­e­quate Fire ex­tin­guish­ers were not reg­u­larly ser­viced

Some mat­tresses were with­out cov­ers and oth­ers were in poor con­di­tion All were equipped with CCTV cam­eras and recre­ational ar­eas lacked light­ing.

Com­mit­tee mem­bers were fur­ther in­censed by the act­ing chief tech­ni­cal direc­tor’s pro­nounce­ment that the scope

of work needed to make sec­tions of the lock-ups ‘ju­ve­nile-friendly’ in­clude re­moval of the sheet metal on all doors; con­struc­tion of meet­ing rooms for pri­vacy; re­pair­ing leak­ing roofs; re­paint­ing all walls; in­stalling ad­di­tional light­ing, which would re­quire cov­er­ing, as well

re­pairs to dam­aged so­lar pan­els.

The Na­tional Works Agency was the ex­e­cut­ing body for the pro­ject, which was orig­i­nally funded from the Ja­maica Emer­gency Em­ploy­ment Pro­ject, but none of their rep­re­sen­ta­tives was in at­ten­dance.

In this file photo, se­cu­rity of­fi­cials, in­clud­ing former min­is­ter Dwight Nel­son (sec­ond left) and former act­ing Com­mis­sioner of Cor­rec­tions Lt Col David Cum­mings (right) are seen on a tour of the new Met­calfe Street Ju­ve­nile Re­mand Cen­tre.

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