It was a practical gift

Letters to the Editor

It was a practical gift

Thursday, July 02, 2020

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Dear Editor,

When England's Prime Minister David Cameron visited Jamaica in September 2015 during the time of the Portia Simpson Miller Administration he stated that the country should move past slavery. Well, that is easy for him to say, because his ancestors weren't enslaved. Besides, look how England treated the Windrush people who helped to build his country and now are being turned away.

He also indicated that his country would refuse to pay reparation — an issue the United Nations strongly recommended should be addressed.

That said, Jamaica should have accepted the prison deal. No one is arguing that it was the most glamorous gift; nevertheless, it was a practical gift.

The British were our colonial and slave masters, so a gift of that nature would be a little awkward and would be bound to have some political ramifications; that is quite understandable and reasonable, so I do understand those voices opposed to it. But the fact is, respective governments have been saying for quite some time that a prison is badly needed for obvious reasons and will be built. Still, nothing.

If a genuine interest had been there on the part of the present or past administration a better deal could be negotiated by now.

A sticking point may have been the 300-prisoner repatriation proposed by Cameron, which could cause financial hardship to Jamaica to take care of them for crimes that were committed in his country. But some would argue that at the end of their sentences they would have been deported to Jamaica anyway.

Frankly, $8.5 billion in assistance towards a new facility is nothing to ignore. Those who are saying that we should build our own prison are not very practical. Jamaica is a poor country and needs all the financial help it can get, and now with the coronavirus pandemic this is even more so.

Jamaica is broke and won't be able to build a modern prison in the foreseeable future and it so desperately needs one. The Tower Street Correctional Centre is dilapidated and is bursting at the seams. It is no secret that it is overcrowded and in a deplorable condition.

Besides, building the prison would have stimulated the country's economy with a large amount of construction jobs along with goods and services.

While in Opposition, Andrew Holness vehemently opposed it, and when he formed the Government in 2016 he completely rejected it. He may be in denial. But denying the truth is not going to make it any less factual.

As the saying goes, “Never look a gift horse in the mouth.”

Noel Mitchell

Westchester, New York, USA

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