Jamaica Prison Inmates On Hunger Strike

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MINISTER without portfolio in the Ministry of National Security Senator Matthew Samuda says a review is under way at St Catherine Adult Correctional Centre in Spanish Town following reports of a hunger strike at the facility.

Reports reaching the Jamaica Observer are that prisoners have refused to eat and are currently on strike as a direct response to an “upsurge in warder harassment” over the Christmas holiday period.

“We’re reviewing what has been said in the same way we review any reports about corrections [officers]. We don’t take anything lightly but not every allegation reaches my desk. At [this] stage I will allow the requisite arms and bodies of correction and the security forces in general to investigate anything that’s of concern,” Samuda said yesterday when contacted by the Observer.

Allegations are that on December 24 an incident occurred when the Caribbean Search Centre entered the institution at approximately 5:00 am.

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It is said that during the search an inmate who refused to leave his cell was beaten.

It is further alleged that later that day, the local patrol team within the correctional facility went on a “rampage” throughout the institution.

“This series of unprecedented activities saw the patrol team, led by a staff officer [name omitted], harassing inmates in their sleep — using broomsticks and other objects to push in the cells of inmates, waking them up [and] asking them to roll over so they can see if they have cellphones.

“This resulted in numerous inmates being taken out of their cells in hours of the night and appliances were taken from them. The following night [Christmas] at 11:30 pm the rampage [continued], this time more forcefully. An incident occurred with an inmate on a section where the overseer demanded that the inmate step out of his cell for a search. When the inmate refused Mr [name omitted] allegedly pulled a firearm, demanding that the inmate step out of the cell. The firearm was handed over to another officer and Mr [name omitted] stepped in the cell and, with a baton around his neck, forced the inmate out of the cell. His appliances and other items were confiscated.

“This incident was not the last as it was alleged that the following day, about 8:30 pm, another group of correctional officers went on various sections that house working class inmates. The officers allegedly continued to use sticks to poke inmates and, on one occasion, threw a piece of board in the cell, hitting an inmate,” a report sent to the Observer claimed.

It said that inmates are demanding that the superintendent take action as the alleged harassment was seen as a reprisal by warders following the murder of a fellow officer last month.

The Department of Correctional Services (DCS) reported that a correctional officer based at the facility was stabbed by an inmate on the morning of November 13.

According to the DCS, about 9:45 am during the unlocking process, an inmate stabbed the officer on duty. The inmate was reportedly subdued by other correctional officers.

The injured officer was taken to hospital but later succumbed to his injuries.

“Numerous concerns need to be addressed within the institution, including lack of adequate rehabilitation opportunities, lack of concern for family values, and the need to have family communication as a part of the rehabilitation process,” the report reaching the Observer said.

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Editorial Staff
Editorial Staff
Our Editorial Staff at St. Lucia Times is a team publishing news and other articles to over 200,000 regular monthly readers in Saint Lucia and in over 150 other countries worldwide.

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