No answers yet from Government on UK prison deal offer


Jovan Johnson, Parliamentary Reporter

There’s been a further delay in the Opposition getting answers to questions tabled in the Senate on whether the Andrew Holness administration has rejected the offer of the United Kingdom to help Jamaica build a new prison.

Opposition Senator Lambert Brown tabled the questions on July 15, which under the rules were due to be answered by the Leader of Government Business in the Senate Kamina Johnson Smith 21 days later on August 5.

Parliament was on summer recess by then and resumed sittings last month.

This morning when Brown queried, Johnson Smith said she was awaiting a response from the Ministry of National Security and will make checks.

She did not state what was causing the delay.

Leader of Opposition Business Mark Golding suggested that Johnson Smith could get an update from the Junior Minister in the Ministry, Pearnel Charles Jr, who was in the Upper House, but Senate President Tom Tavares Finson did not allow it.

He said he was satisfied with Johnson Smith’s explanation.

Brown has asked the Government to state whether the help to build a maximum security prison would be beneficial to the Department of Correctional Services and whether the Holness administration has been meeting with British Government officials since it took over the Government.

He has also asked for updated figures on British deportations to Jamaica and Jamaicans incarcerated in the UK.

During a visit to Jamaica last year September, David Cameron, then UK prime minister, triggered national fury when he said Jamaica had signed an agreement to get 40 per cent of the cost to build a new prison.

Cameron revealed that as part of the deal 300 Jamaican nationals who are serving sentences in the UK prison system would be sent back to Jamaica to complete their sentences.

The Jamaica Labour Party, which was in Opposition then, was among several local groups which publicly opposed the agreement.