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Report on Prison Conditions in Jamaica

cells facing to the north and the south, with walls painted light blue and yellow, and a slanted, rusting, corrugated iron roof. North Block is the largest building at TSACC; it contains eight sections, four on each side of the building. Each section contains 40 cells. Tin open corridors supported by dilapidated pillars run the length of the building in front of the cells on both floors. When an inmate steps onto the corridor in front of his cell, there is no outer wall in front of him (although on the first floor there is a railing). He is sheltered only by the ceiling above him, and his cell is thus open to the elements during the hurricane season (June to November, each year).

During the visit to North Block, at around half past nine in the morning, the inmates were still bathing and collecting water before breakfast; some were milling around talking. Although they are allowed out of their cells in staggered groups, the sheer number of inmates on each section meant that the block was extremely cramped and claustrophobic. Te vast majority of cells on North Block house three men. Tere are thus around 120 men per section. Tere were a few fours; the officers could not say for sure whether there were any fives at the present time, but confirmed that there certainly had been in the past. Te cells in the block are among the smallest I saw on the island. Some of the inmates had mattresses, but few had sheets. When talking to three inmates who remained locked down in their cell, it was difficult to imagine how they could possibly spend a night trapped in the dark, inadequate, and dirty space. One sat on the floor, while two others stood over him, leaning over one another to speak to me, all three peering out from behind the rusting, metal bars of the thin gate.

Once informed by the officers that I was examining the conditions in the prisons, the inmates crowded round to tell me about the aspects of their existence that most aggrieved them: the open gutter running along the front of the cells, filled with stagnant water and rotting food, the places on the corridor ceiling where plaster was coming away and risked falling on the inmates, the insects that infested their cells. On one section, the inmates led me to the washing area at the end of their block. It was disgusting. Tere was one shower pipe – to be shared between over 120 inmates – and three toilets, in an open, unroofed area, with low stone walls dividing the cubicles and shower. Te stone was broken and crumbling, and covered in mould and fungus. Te stench of the toilets was overpowering. Te inmates had improvised a screen by placing a sheet over the walls to retain their modesty. I had felt uncomfortable about inspecting the washroom while inmates had their only opportunity to use it for the day, but I was physically led down to it by the prisoners, who were keen to show the terrible state it was in. As they queued to use the shower and toilets, it looked as though they were standing in a 19th ruin.

century Punishment

Te Corrections Act specifies punishments which, in certain circumstances, may be inflicted upon inmates found guilty of ‘correctional centre offences’. Under Section 35(1),


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