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First set of prisoners will be relocated to Belle Isle soon, says PM Gonsalves

First set of prisoners will be relocated to Belle Isle soon, says PM Gonsalves


The process of moving the first set of prisoners into the new prison facility at Belle Isle is expected to take place soon.{{more}}

Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves said last Thursday that the move into the facility should have already taken place. however, the death of the father of the Superintendent of Prisons delayed that process.

He did not give a new date for the move, but added that he had given the instructions for the opening ceremony to take place within the next few weeks, although he will be traveling and may not be here.

The prime minister was reacting to a comment made by Justice Frederick Bruce-Lyle during the recent closing of the first session of this year’s criminal assizes about the delay in opening the new facility.

Gonsalves, however, explained that there were some final things that needed to be put in place, including the strengthening of the fence and some additional lighting.

Gonsalves stated that it was the current administration that had eliminated the national security risk at the Her Majesty’s Prison in Kingstown.

He said that in his first meeting with the then commissioner of police just after taking office in 2001, it was revealed to him that one of the biggest potential threats to national security was the prison, because of the ill discipline he said was taking place at that time.

“People forget that it was the prisoners who used to run the prison,” Gonsalves said.

“We have put an end to that and have built a new prison…at least the first and most important phase and very shortly we are going to move into it,” he continued.

The first phase of the new facility was officially opened over two years ago in October 2009, and was designed to accommodate 288 inmates.

It was constructed at a cost of EC$18.7 million.

Construction of the second phase was expected to have begun in April 2009, with completion in August 2010.

The existing male facility was built back in 1872 and was expected to initially house 70 inmates, with upgrades taking place over a period of time, which increased the capacity to 300.

The number of inmates currently at the facility stands at 406.(DD)