Country Report on Jamaica Human Rights Practices

In prison abuse, restorative justice on April 2, 2008 at 6:57 am

The U.S. Country Report on Human Rights Practices in Jamaica for 2007 made particular mention of the penal system.

The Report states that physical abuse of prisoners by guards continued, despite efforts by the government to remove abusive guards and improve procedures.

“Prison conditions remained poor, primarily due to overcrowding and poor sanitary conditions. The Department of Correctional Services took measures during the year to improve catering services and also entered into a new contract for insect and rodent control for all facilities.”

This in effect indicates that the prisons in Jamaica were found to have been home to rats, roaches, flies and other creatures which could infect officers and inmates alike. Such a state of affairs creates an environment for widespread communicable disease which would filter into the wider community as inmates are released.

“Medical care also was poor, primarily a result of having only three full-time doctors, one full-time nurse, and no psychiatrist to cover 13 facilities with 4,790 inmates across the island.”

The refusal to make adequate provision for medical care for the prison population is an example of State neglect and negligence which can lead to a public health issue that affects the entire island. Moreover, with more than 50% of prisoners battling substance abuse problems, psychiatric care is essential to the rehabilitation of such offenders and the reduction of their likelihood to re-offend upon release.

CURB encourages the new Jamaican government to right the wrongs allowed to continue in respect to the prison system. It is prudent for them to invest in making the prisons more sanitary and to retain adequate staff to assist in the rehabilitation and transformation process of inmates. Such an investment will bear fruit for the entire community.

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