JFJ Asks What Is to Happen to the Children at Fort Augusta
Friday, August 23, 2012, Kingston, Jamaica – Jamaicans for Justice (JFJ) has grave concerns about the fact that, although the Fort Augusta Correctional Centre is scheduled to close by the end of December 2012, there are currently no concrete relocation plans in place for the women and children held at that facility. Given that the issue of alternative use for the Fort Augusta lands has been discussed and planned for by successive governments since at least 2000 *, the question must be asked – how have we ended up here? The failure to prepare adequately for this relocation demonstrates a lack of vision and a low priority for the State’s responsibility for the treatment of citizens in correctional facilities.
Of particular concern are the girls who are currently being held in the adult women’s prison. It is essential that particular plans be made for the placement of these children in an appropriate facility. These children cannot simply be thought of as a secondary attachment to the main population that needs to be relocated.
We note that in 2010, following the release of the Armadale Report, former Prime Minister Bruce Golding laid out a plan in Parliament to address the situation of children in police lockups and correctional facilities. The plan included, among other things, the establishment of a juvenile remand centre for girls and an additional correctional facility for girls. This has not been done, and has resulted in the continuation of the untenable and immoral practice of housing children in an adult facility. JFJ asks the question, what became of these plans?
We call on the following persons to respond immediately to this critical issue:
- the Minister of National Security, who has responsibility for Corrections,
- the Minister of Youth and Culture, who has responsibility for children,
- the Children’s Advocate, who has responsibility to advocate on behalf of children and
- the Child Development Agency, which has responsibility for all children in Jamaica.
Too often, children bear the brunt of adults’ lack of vision and action. Putting our children in adult prisons is not providing them with the environment necessary to achieve their maximum potential. Without a vision, our children perish. This issue deserves immediate action.
*For a sample of comments please refer to the following page.
A Selection of Past Comments Relevant to this Issue
Date: April 6, 2001
Comments: “In 1998, the Port Authority of Jamaica undertook a study to identify the medium and long-term land requirements for the Port of Kingston. Wallace Evans Jamaica Ltd. carried out that study.
The study identified areas in Hunts Bay and Fort Augusta as being the most appropriate lands for Port expansion. The development of the areas would necessitate the relocation of the causeway and the reclamation of adjacent land.”
Source: 2001-2002 Budget Presentation by Prime Minister P.J. Patterson
Date: June 14, 2005
Comments: “An additional one hundred and sixty acres of land will be created from dredging works at the Kingston Harbour channel, and will result in the joining of the lands between Fort Augusta and St. Albans. It is a fact that the international shipping lines are very excited about the developments at the Port and the plans they see for the provision of adequate future capacity.”
Source: 2005 – 2006 Sectoral Debate, Minister of Transport and Works, Robert Pickersgill
Date: July 16, 2006
Comments: “We are presently receiving tenders from both the U.S. and U.K. governments to build a new facility to be owned, leased by the successful bidder and then transferred to the Jamaican Government,” he says. “The new prison will be designed using a modern campus-style concept to accommodate both males and females, replacing the antiquated facilities at Fort Augusta.”
Source: Major Richard Reece, Commissioner of Corrections
Date: January 28, 2009
Comments: “Your committee was informed that additional remand and juvenile correctional facilities for boys and girls were needed, as girls were being held at Fort Augusta, which had been sold to the Port Authority, and boys at the Horizon Park remand centre.”
Source: Report of the Public Administration and Appropriations Committee of the House of Representatives on our deliberations on the Ministry of National Security
Date: March 2, 2010
Comments: “I wish to advise the House of the following measures to address these problems:
Work will commence within the next few weeks on the renovation and outfitting of the Montpelier Youth Camp in St. James which will provide accommodation for 250 children and will be designated a juvenile correctional centre for boys, i.e., boys in respect of whom correctional orders have been issued by the Courts. The boys currently housed at the Rio Cobre Juvenile Correctional Centre will be relocated to Montpelier when it is completed. Thereafter, the Rio Cobre Centre will be designated a juvenile correctional centre for girls.
The former youth camp at Cape Clear in St. Mary, now being used as the regional offices of the Social Development Commission, will be converted into a juvenile remand centre to house boys who are to be taken before the Court or are awaiting a decision of the Court. The boys being housed at the St. Andrew Remand Centre in Stony Hill will be transferred to Cape Clear and the Stony Hill facility will then be designated a juvenile remand centre for girls. The intention is to ensure that children on remand are housed in separate facilities from those who are the subject of correctional orders.
As soon as the Cape Clear facilities become operational, there will be no reason for children to be held at police stations longer than is necessary to arrange for them to be transported to the Cape Clear facility. Nor will any of these children have to be held at adult correctional institutions. Court room space will be provided at Cape Clear so that children housed there will not have to leave the premises for attendance at court.”
Source: Prime Minister Bruce Golding address to Parliament
Date: July 27, 2010
Comments: “The privatisation plan for the Kingston Container Terminal (KCT) has two phases: The privatisation of the development of Fort Augusta lands, under a Build/Operate/Transfer arrangement.”
Source: Sectoral Debate, Minister Mike Henry, Ministry of Transport and Works
Date: September 6, 2011
Comments: “Right now we are under pressure for where the female prison is because the owners of that property need it and we know why they need because it is a very valuable piece of property and so we have to seek to have that relocated which means building a new facility for women.”
Source: State Minister, Minister of National Security, Dr. St. Aubyn Bartlett in a Power106 interview