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Part Two: St Catherine Adult Correctional Centre and Tower Street Adult Correctional Centre

Te physical structure of each block on Gibraltar is identical. Each can house a maximum of 26 inmates, with 13 cells facing inwards on either side of a central corridor. Section 41 of the Corrections Act dictates that ‘Every inmate under sentence of death shall be confined apart from other inmates in a special cell, and shall be under constant supervision day and night.’ No condemned inmates therefore share cells. Te cells are separated by thick stone walls, and have grilled metal bars at the front. Each cell measures approximately 1.75 metres in width by 3.5 metres in length, with high ceilings around 3 metres from the ground. None of the cells have windows. Te only ventilation in the cells comes from the barred entrances leading onto the corridor and barred, rectangular vents, around 10 centimetres high by 1 metre wide, which are positioned above head height on each cell’s back wall. Te latter provide the only access to fresh air in each cell, but they are also open to the elements, and inmates complain that during storms rain often blows in.

i. Bedding

Each death row cell used to contain a solid concrete cuboid bunk on which the inmates slept. However, at some stage over the past few years, these were all destroyed (apparently due to concerns that inmates were concealing forbidden items in them) and the inmates now place their thin sponge mattresses – if they are lucky enough to possess them – on the stone floor. At the time of the visit, three of the eight condemned inmates were without mattresses, and were forced to sleep on top of either thin sheets, or merely cardboard, which they place on the hard floor. Te majority of the mattresses are old and worn, with the sheet covering the sponge coming away; they are often covered in mould and falling apart, reflecting both the dirty and unsanitary conditions in the cells and the inability of the institution to provide new bedding. Whether an inmate possesses a mattress or not, the lack of beds or bunks and the thinness of the mattresses available means that inmates sleep very close to the stone floor, which is invariably dirty. One of the most frequent complaints from inmates is that they are covered in insects, such as cockroaches, ants, and bedbugs, while they sleep, and whilst they are locked down in general.

At the time of the visit, one condemned inmate – rather surprisingly – possessed a bed. It should be emphasised that this is incredibly unusual in SCACC, and usually a privilege reserved for orderlies and senior inmates. It is illustrative of the arbitrary nature of the cell conditions of the inmates in the institution as a whole. Much depends on what an inmate’s family or friends are able to provide for them, and what amenities they can afford to purchase inside the prison. While this might be expected to a certain extent with regard to items that might be considered luxuries, the inability of Correctional services to provide basic living necessities such as clothing, bedding, and toiletries means that while all the inmates languish in abominable conditions, a lucky few are able to make their suffering a little more tolerable.


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