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

floor section were frantically having to mop up water pouring down from the sections above.

In New Hall and South Block it is the norm to have three or more inmates to a cell. Some lifers and those deemed troublesome might be put in their own cells, but the general numbers speak for themselves: at the time of the visit New Hall housed 349 prisoners in 182 single cells, and South Block 177 prisoners in 66 single cells. I saw several cells of four, and correctional officers confirmed that there are also single cells housing five inmates. Prisoners described how they would sleep top to toe lengthwise, with another lying horizontally at the rear of the cell, and often yet another in a hammock above them. It is hard to imagine how it would ever be possible for the inmates to sleep in such overcrowded conditions – even more so when the overwhelming heat and lack of ventilation are taken into account.

Several inmates complained in New Hall that they were not permitted to use the lights they had wired into their cells between 6am and 6pm, and that – somewhat bizarrely – they were therefore able to read and see each other at night, but not during the day. An officer confirmed to me that the prison was indeed trying to save electricity in this way. Another complaint, which was common throughout all the institutions visited, was that the cells were infested with insects.

Upon leaving New Hall, a series of prisoners approached me to complain vociferously about their conditions, as they had been told I was visiting to examine them. Tey were soon joined by many others, and an impromptu debate took place between the correctional officer who was guiding me round the institution and the inmates of New Hall. Te inmates’ concerns ranged from overcrowding, to the provision of electricity, to sanitary facilities. Te correctional officer attempted to explain that a lack of resources at Correctional Services meant that SCACC simply could not afford to improve the conditions in which they found themselves, even referencing the global recession and the resulting economic stress on the Jamaican government. Te inmates, shouting over each other in an attempt to be heard, replied that they were only seeking the most basic of living necessities and human rights. Te inmates clearly had a lot of respect for this particular officer, and the debate remained fairly calm, but the incident provided a fascinating insight into the views of the inmates, and the way in which they interact with the prison staff. It also demonstrated the enormous pressures and tinderbox atmosphere in which the prison staff have to work, and the inmates have to live.

TSACC: North Block

Immediately after entering the main gate at TSACC, one finds oneself in a compound surrounded by a razor wire facing a long wall of a building, underneath which one walks to access the rest of the prison. Tis is North Block, a long cramped two-storey block of


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