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Report on Prison Conditions in Jamaica


It is important to note that those listed above are the only punishments provided for by the Corrections Act. Tere is no provision for permanent removal to a ‘punishment block’ with restricted access to exercise and facilities, or for the prevention of the use of electric light, as is the current practice at SCACC and TSACC. Te SMR provide with regard to the punishment of prisoners that:


30. (1) No prisoner shall be punished except in accordance with the terms of such law or regulation, and never twice for the same offence. (2) No prisoner shall be punished unless he has been informed of the offence alleged against him and given a proper opportunity of presenting his defence. Te competent authority shall conduct a thorough examination of the case.


31. Corporal punishment, punishment by placing in a dark cell, and all cruel, inhuman or degrading punishments shall be completely prohibited as punishments for disciplinary offences.


It is submitted that the punishment sections at SCACC and TSACC, as outlined below, are maintained in breach of both the Corrections Act and the SMR, and that the conditions imposed as a punishment constitute inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment.


i. SCACC: Gibraltar 2


As mentioned previously, as a result of the dramatic fall in the number of condemned men in Jamaica in recent years, Gibraltar 2, formerly the lower floor of death row at SCACC, is now used as a punishment block. Te basic cell layout and structures on Gibraltar 2 are identical to those on Gibraltar 1. However, while its first floor counterpart does receive a certain amount of daylight (although only on account of its dilapidated roof), upon entering Gibraltar 2, one is plunged immediately into darkness, despite the invariably bright sun outside. Te only daylight comes from the doorway at the front of the section, and the tiny individual vents at the back of each cell. Long thin halogen bulbs do run along the ceiling of the central corridor on the section. However, the light provided by these lamps is barely sufficient to light the corridor of the section in the daytime, and certainly does not penetrate inmates’ cells.


Te conditions on the ‘punishment block’ raise questions about the nature of the punishment being inflicted on the prisoners of Gibraltar 2. In clear breach of the SMR, prisoners in some cells were forbidden from having lights in their cells as part of their punishment. In breach of the Correctional Institution Rules, two of the inmates had been in unlit cells of three for over six months, and some had not been informed why they were there, let alone permitted to raise a defence. Te punishment inflicted upon the inmates was thus arbitrary as well as inhuman and degrading.


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