This year’s murder toll has now surpassed last year’s figure and is expected to continue its trend after another bloody weekend.
Justice Minister Christlyn Moore has described the Port-of-Spain prison as “small and inadequate” and says it needs to be shut down and replaced. She was speaking to reporters after the joint Ministry of Food Production/United Nations Development Programme/Vision on Mission Turning of the Heart and Soil crime reduction and prevention project last week. The event was held at 263 Hamilton Siding Road, Wallerfield.
Closing the Port-of-Spain facility entails planning and finding an entirely new facility,” Moore said. “Whereas we can say with assurance that we know where the Carrera inmates will go, it is feasible to close that prison almost immediately. “The Port-of-Spain prison is a whole different animal and it must be closed, it has to be closed. It’s too small, it’s inadequate and has been described in very disparaging terms and these terms are true.”
Moore said closing the facility without first having a proper replacement prison in place was “really quite nonsensical.” She said what can be expected was a plan to be developed to facilitate the closure in the future.
When asked about Prisons’ Officers Association (POA) president Ceron Richards’s concerns that when the estimated 300 Carrera Island Prison inmates are transferred to the Maximum Security Prison in Golden Grove, Arouca, much-needed upgrades on the MSP won’t be completed, she said the upgrade was one of the reasons that the closing down was scheduled for December. Moore said it was anticipated that the upgrade will happen in the interim and she could understand his fear but it was not real and was “a little fanciful.”
She said the upgrades were of an electrical nature but could not go into details for security reasons. Moore also described as absolutely untrue the POA’s allegation that there was not enough room at the MSP to house the additional influx of 300 Carrera inmates.
She said the upgrade did not include building a wing to house the prisoners.
Moore said that did not mean that in other parts of the prison system there wasn’t a need for major upgrades and rebuilding such as the Remand Prison at Golden Grove which she said was woefully inadequate for the inmates. She said the Eastern Correctional Rehabilitation Centre at Santa Rosa Heights, Arima, was now being used as a pre-release centre for the 100 to 150 inmates to transition them out of the system and into productive life at the end of their long sentences.