Proposal for new prison takes a back seat

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By Latrishka Thomas

The government has decided to build a remand prison facility in short order and will therefore be putting the idea of undertaking a totally new prison in Antigua and Barbuda on the back burner.

In September 2018, the Minister of National Security Steadroy “Cutie” Benjamin announced that construction of a new prison will begin on the twin island during the first quarter of 2019.

However, yesterday Benjamin said that while he wishes to advance that plan, another idea was advanced in Cabinet.

“It was my intention and always will be my intention to build a new prison. However, last week in Cabinet it was mooted that perhaps in the circumstances it may be wiser to do repairs to the existing prison — that is to modernise it with all modern facilities and then let it become operational,” Benjamin said.

Last week, in Cabinet, the government revealed its plan to build a facility on the compound of the Prison Farm in Duers’ Estate — not far from Sanderson’s — for persons on remand and for youthful offenders who have been given custodial sentences.

The decision was reportedly arrived at because “the Cabinet is of the view that those on remand ought to be separated from those who have been convicted.

“A little more than 100 men and women are on remand, awaiting a trial date or other procedures before the court; they have not been convicted of any crime.”

In fact, the Cabinet notes stated that the first of the containerised units for the construction of the new holding facility will arrive on island within a few weeks.

Despite this development, Benjamin said that the plan to construct a new prison is not completely off the table just yet.

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