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Prison visits to be suspended

Thursday, March 12, 2020

KINGSTON, Jamaica — The Department of Correctional Services (DCS) says effective Monday, March 16, all external visits to the facilities will be suspended for two weeks as part of its COVID-19 prevention plan to decrease the likelihood of the spread of the virus within facilities islandwide.

The DCS said during this period, the public will not be allowed to take food or care packages to correctional centres. 

It said Probation Aftercare Offices will still be operational; however, walk-in visits to these locations have been suspended. The suspensions will be reviewed at the end of the two weeks.

Commissioner of Corrections Lieutenant Colonel (Ret'd) Gary Rowe said the decision to suspend visits was made in consultation with health officials, external stakeholders and follows the Government's decision to halt all public gatherings.

 “We understand that relatives may be concerned about the well-being of their loved ones within state care. However, we wish to advise that we have been preparing for weeks for this eventuality and we are prepared to manage the environment. We will do everything within our power to safeguard the health and wellness of our inmates, wards and staff. During this time we will make provisions for relatives and friends of inmates to communicate with the staff at the respective facilities for any clarification,” the commissioner said. 

He added that other methods of prevention include inmate and staff sensitisation to COVID-19 and increased supply of sanitizers, hand soaps and sanitisation of surface areas. 

Over 4000 inmates are currently housed at correctional facilities island-wide.