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PM signs Belle Isle prison contract

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The proposed ultra-modern prison facility earmarked for Belle Isle moved one step closer towards realization on Monday when a contract for construction was signed.
Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, acting as Minister of National Security in the absence of Sir Vincent Beache who is in London, was all smiles signing the document at Cabinet Room on behalf of his Government.{{more}}
In the face of much political turmoil over the issue during the past two years, the most recent being just a few months ago with farmers who occupied lands at the proposed site, this is indeed a victory for Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves and his Unity Labour Party administration.
A victory in the sense that the Government has prevailed over its political adversaries who used all the arsenal at their disposal to try to stop the construction of the new penitentiary.
The contract, awarded to Aurin Bennett Architects, Gibson Construction and partners, paves the way for construction to begin in the next eight weeks.
An elated Prime Minister Dr. Gonsalves said the new prison would be built at an estimated cost of EC$21.9 million. The first phase which will be constructed over an 18-month to 24-month period will be built at EC$11.7 million.
Dr. Gonsalves stated the construction of the new correctional facility would fulfil one of his Party’s Manifesto plans, which called for the construction of a new jail on the recommendation of Sir Frederick Smith who carried out an Inquiry into Her Majesty Prison in 2000.
According to the Prime Minister, the construction of a new home for prisoners is long overdue. He said Her Majesty Prison in Kingstown was built in 1872 to house 60 inmates and today, although having additional rooms built to it, is terribly overcrowded with 370 prisoners.
The Prime Minister said the new prison would not only be about confinement but one of rehabilitating the prisoners, which will help them to become productive citizens.
Among the other objectives disclosed for the construction of this new facility is that of creating a secure correctional environment for persons who are remanded or detained. To provide adequate space for programmes, services and supervision in a safe humane environment that will prepare the incarcerated persons for re-entry into the society.
The Belle Isle Correctional Facility will comprise an administration building, a minimum security inmate housing block to accommodate 256 inmates, a medium security inmate housing block to accommodate 96 inmates, a maximum inmate housing block for 48 inmates, staff workers, special services unit base, Superintendent’s residence, a manager’s residence, kitchen/dining facilities, and building for education/craft/trade, laundry, transformer/generator and utility, medical/isolation, entry/gate entry and gate house.
Louis Straker, area representative for South Central Windward where the prison will be built said the signing of the contract was a milestone for the Government.
The Foreign Affairs Minister said the construction of the prison will provide several jobs for his constituents and he was pleased about that.
At present there are 370 prisoners in St.Vincent and the Grenadines, 365 males and 15 females.

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