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Report on Prison Conditions in Jamaica

It does not appear that, in accordance with 147(2), any regulations have ever been passed under the Corrections Act permitting the incarceration of more than three inmates in a single cell. Cells of more than three inmates are thus in clear breach of Rule 147.

In some cells in both institutions the overcrowding is such that hammocks are constructed and hung from the bars at the front of the cell and the grilled vent at the rear. Te use of hammocks is against institution rules, but a necessity in the overcrowded cells so that the inmates have a space in which they can all lie down at once. Te hammocks are clearly extremely dangerous. Firstly, in order to hang them tautly from the vent at the rear of the cell, they must be around 2.5 metres from the ground, meaning that the inmates must struggle to get into them, and run the risk of injury from falling on to the hard stone floor at night (or injuring their cellmates by falling upon them). Secondly, the hammocks themselves are often constructed on a makeshift basis, using whatever materials are available to the prisoners – one made using a tarpaulin sheet was fraying in several places and clearly about to break.

Severe overcrowding is the dominant feature of life at TSACC and SCACC. It carries with it obvious implications regarding health and also the safety of inmates. It should be remembered that all the observations made in this report should be seen in the context of the fearful heat of the Caribbean climate. It is submitted that, to confine three men to a cell designed for one person, in the circumstances described above, amounts in and of itself to a form of inhuman and degrading treatment.

SCACC: New Hall and South Block

New Hall and South Block, built in 1840, are the two most imposing buildings at SCACC. While New Hall is significantly the larger of the two, in all but size they are identical: tall, thin, free standing three-storey blocks built of light-coloured cut stone. At either end of the first and second floor sections’ central corridors, a barred archway looks out upon the grounds of SCACC. When not locked down, unoccupied inmates hang their arms out of the archways and shout to their fellow prisoners down below.

When entering the blocks one is plunged into near total darkness, apart from on the top floor, where a small amount of daylight creeps in through the zinc roof. Te wire fences that have been built above the cells between the walls and the roof on the top floor to prevent pigeons flying onto the block are coming away. Pigeons are therefore able to enter the block freely. Tey perch atop the cells; and the walls and doors at the front of the cells are covered in their faeces. Access to the upper sections is by slippery, rusting metal staircases built into the central corridors, which are clearly dangerous. Inmates hang bright coloured clothes to dry from railings which peer down over balconies into the open centre of the block. During the visit to New Hall the inmates on the ground


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