Work is set to begin to repair a roof described as an escape route for inmates housed in the Remand Center at Her Majesty’s Prison, Antigua and Barbuda’s lone penal institution.
According to the Minister of Public Works, Lennox Weston, the repairs form part of an overall plan to effect major improvements to the physical structure of the prison.
“They had finally moved the prisoners to a new facility that we have built, and we have emptied the Remand Center. So, we are now going to change the roof on that and fix that building. We are now in the second phase where we are going to move the roof off the Remand Center and rebuild it and put in modern facilities,” Weston said in an interview.
The Superintendent of Prisons, Jermaine Anthony confirmed that the roof needed repairs for some time after two prisoners, Ramone “Rusty” Thomas and Kelson “Club Social” Andrew, reportedly escaped through the compromised roof of the building and jumped over the prison wall last month.
Also, National Security Minister Steadroy Benjamin recently told Observer that the breach would be addressed within 21 days after drawings have been reviewed and delivered by Public Works.
Benjamin, who is also the Attorney General and Minister of Public Safety, reassured the public that the matter was of great concern to national security and will be resolved.
The conditions at Her Majesty’s Prison have been the subject of controversy for decades, with some human rights advocates calling for the construction of an entirely new institution.
The government embarked on a prison expansion and renovation project some years ago following another human rights report which harshly criticised the inhumane conditions, and the fact that little was being done to address them.
In 2018, the kitchen roof collapsed and was subsequently repaired along with other areas at HMP, as the upgrades continue.