Yet another promise for a new prison

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Attorney General, Steadroy “Cutie” Benjamin has announced that construction of a new prison will begin in Antigua and Barbuda during the first quarter of next year.
He made the disclosure during his address at yesterday’s opening of the new law year for the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) of which Antigua and Barbuda is a part.
The Attorney General said that he has held discussion with a group that is prepared to get started next year – it’s a promise that the nation has heard before and which comes at a time when inmates are crying out for improved conditions.
He acknowledged that there is a desperate need for a new prison to be constructed as the current facility which was built in 1735 has far outgrown its purpose.
According to him, talks will continue and will be finalised when Cabinet meets today.
The Attorney General added that all the arrangements will be made, the area of construction will be identified and the Superintendent of Prison Albert Wade will play a major role in establishing the the new prison to ensure that proper security mechanisms are in place as well as appropriate facilities for female and male inmates.
He also promised to invite members of the Bar Association to participate in the process.
It has been years now since different administrations promised the construction of a new prison but it never materialised, even as conditions worsen at the lone penal institution – Her Majesty’s Prison on Coronation Road.
An area was already identified for the site for the new prison in 2013, and the then Minister of National Security, Dr. Errol Cort had said that the government was  considering five proposals.
He had also added that a small team had been set up in the Ministry of National Security to go through the proposals.
 The team was headed by the permanent secretary and consisted of persons from Public Works. 
 There has been no update on what happened with that team or the plans.
Yesterday’s Ceremonial Opening of the New Law Year 2018/2019, was marked by a Special Sitting of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court in Basseterre, St. Kitts and Nevis, that featured an Opening Address at 10:00 a.m. by Chief Justice Dame Janice M. Pereira.
Simultaneously special sittings were held in the other OECS Member States and Territories – Anguilla, the Virgin Islands, Montserrat, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St. Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
 “Challenges, Opportunities and Resilience: The ECSC paving the way to a Modern and Efficient Judiciary for the Eastern Caribbean” was the theme for the opening of the Law Year.

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