Ex-inmate says harsh conditions exist throughout HMP

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It is misleading to state that conditions for female inmates at Her Majesty’s Prison (HMP) are better than the conditions the male inmates have to endure in the overcrowded Coronation Road facility.

This is according to former prison inmate Jessica Thompson, who made her comments on Facebook recently following the publication of the US State Department Country Report on Human Rights Practices in Antigua and Barbuda for 2018 which noted how harsh conditions are for males, particularly those on remand.

According to Thompson, the conditions are inhumane throughout the prison and, just like the male prisoners, the females do not have access to washroom facilities around the clock.

“We have to [urinate] in a five-gallon water bottle. We have to cut it and we [urinate] in there and if the cells are closed at six they don’t let you out to use the bathroom. You have to [defecate] in deh and cover it, and throw it out in the septic hole in the mornings when they open the gate. So, you know if anybody in ya cell go off in the night, you as the other inmate in there with them [have] to stay in that smell until the morning, now is that healthy? No,” she said.

She said as it relates to health issues, all the inmates face the same challenge of inadequate care. On more than one occasion the government promised to provide such care but never delivered on the promise.

“Now, I am a known diabetic and when the kitchen lock at six, that’s it for you, they don’t consider you as a diabetic or if you have any sickness. Even if you have snacks, because the ventilation is so poor, you keep feeling hot, you keep feeling miserable. I fainted four times and all the nurse say do ah ‘gie she sugar wata’. But thank God for Emily that gorn home, she looked out fuh me, she know betta than giving me sugar wata,” the woman reported.

Thompson also indicated that all the inmates – men, women, and juveniles – face the same rude and inconsiderate attitude of prison officers.

She said the officers speak to inmates in an abusive manner and “not even fuh me worse enemy me would like fuh go a jail.”

After viewing the woman’s complaints on social media, OBSERVER media got confirmation from prison sources who said Thompson had been arrested and remanded more than once and her claims are true.

Prison officers said they too have to work under the inhumane conditions and are appealing to the government to do something soon to improve the situation.

Last September, the minister responsible for Prisons, Steadroy Benjamin, announced that work to build a new prison should start in the first quarter of this year.

However, there’s no evidence that this is happening and the first quarter is almost over.

Efforts to reach Minister Benjamin since the Human Rights report was published have been unsuccessful.

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