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Report on Prison Conditions in Jamaica

ii. Light

Te only natural light in the cells in Gibraltar 1 – the upper section – comes from the small, narrow vents at the back of the cells, and from the roof, which is in a state of some disrepair, and allows a limited amount of light on to the corridor of the section during the day. Little of this light, however, permeates the cells themselves, which remain very dimly lit, despite the invariably bright Jamaican sunlight outside. Without electrical light, it would be impossible to read in a cell during the day.

However, none of the cells in SCACC contain electrical sockets or lights. On Gibraltar, as on most blocks in the institution and in TSACC, there are two electrical sockets on the wall outside each cell. From these sockets, the inmates run bare electrical wires into their cells and connect them to light bulbs. Te prison does not provide bulbs, nor make any available to purchase, so inmates are dependent either on provision from outside the institution or on purchasing them from each other on the black market. Even then, a single bulb does not provide sufficient light within the dark stone walls; the more fortunate inmates will therefore run several wires into several bulbs to add more light. During the visit all death row inmates did have working bulbs in their cells. However, as will be seen below, inmates are sometimes denied use of the electrical sockets as a form of punishment. Access to light within cells in the institution is therefore not only highly dangerous in terms of risk of electrocution, but is also seen as a privilege, rather than a right.

iii. Sanitation

None of the cells in SCACC have toilets inside. Inmates use slop buckets when locked down, and empty them into pit toilets (or ‘appas’ in Jamaican patois), during the periods in which they are allowed out of their cells. When entering Gibraltar 1 or 2, as with many other sections in the institution, the heat and stench can be overwhelming. Tere are two toilets half way down the corridor of each section of Gibraltar. However, on death row neither toilet works, so inmates use the pit toilets outside on the fenced compound. Tese are in a state of chronic disrepair, covered in flies and mould, with rotten paint and pieces of stone coming away. As with other toilets in the institution, when the sewage plant housed on the SCACC site breaks down (which, I was informed by an Overseer, does happen relatively regularly), they become blocked and can overflow, spilling excrement into part of the small area in which the inmates of Gibraltars 1 and 2 bathe and exercise.

Tere are two washrooms at the end of the corridors on Gibraltar 1 and 2. Like the toilets on death row, neither of the washrooms works. Tey contain merely broken stone and debris and dirt. Instead inmates both bathe and wash their clothes outside on the compound, taking turns to use a tap outside. Te tap, however, is not housed in a proper washroom or shower unit but is open to the elements, and no privacy is available.


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