The Ministry of National Security has outlined measures to strengthen security in our correctional institutions, stamping out the smuggling of cell phones and other contraband, and clarifying the conditions under which music is recorded by inmates in maximum security facilities.
“We have to respect the public’s concerns, protect our citizens and secure the reputation of the honest, hard-working correctional officers in the system. We will make every effort to eradicate corruption and criminality and to hold persons accountable for breaches, as well as deficiencies in management. It is unacceptable that breaches continue year after year, and it is time to draw a line in the sand!” declared State Minister Senator Pearnel Charles jr.
“What now exists is a dysfunctional system, where we have to contend with contraband entering our correctional facilities and the allegations of complicity of our staff in this matter. This poses a potential threat to our national security and to our efforts to redefine and transform the Department of Correctional Services”, said Senator Charles.
Four DCS officers were recently arrested and are now before the court on charges pertaining to corruptive dealings with inmates, while other officers have been removed for alleged unprofessional conduct.
The Department of Correctional Services is also deepening its collaboration with the Jamaica Constabulary Force and the Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Agency, in the analysis of data found on cellular phones seized in the correctional institutions.
Citing music and the creative arts as important tools of rehabilitation, the State Minister says the Department of Correctional Services encourages authorised and structured participation in rehabilitation programmes.
“There are two radio stations at Tower Street and St. Catherine, which have been utilised in that regard”, said Senator Charles.
“This however does not include unauthorised and illegal recordings. Any such activities are prohibited, and punitive action will be taken against any officer or inmate found involved and in breach of these regulations”, continued Senator Charles.
The Minister of State also noted that arising from several high-level security meetings, the most recent being yesterday, a system-wide security assessment will be implemented to strengthen the internal controls in all institutions and deter corruption and the conduct of criminal activity within the correctional facilities.
Among the key security measures to be implemented are: Amendments to existing legislation, regulations and procedures to increase accountability and enforcement.
The installation of X-Ray Scanning Machines at Tower Street and St. Catherine Adult Correctional Centres and the Horizon Adult Remand Centre.
Metal detectors and New Entry Management Protocols
Polygraphing of all recruits and correctional officers
Relocation of Inmates and Re-zoning spaces in all institutions
Expanded CCTV coverage across the Correctional System
Enhanced use of cellular phone jamming technology.
The came to the fore when Member of Parliament Lisa Hanna said that music of persons who are in prison for certain crime should be banned from the airwaves.
She came under criticism on social media and have even received several threats after she had used a reference music being played by Vybz Kartel.
CAPTION: Above:– State Minister in the Ministry of National Security, Senator Pearnel Charles Junior