The state of lock-ups did not happen overnight

The state of lock-ups did not happen overnight

Thursday, December 06, 2018

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Dear Editor,

Have you been to a lock-up in Jamaica? Do we understand the years of neglect that led to the issues we face in our police stations and prisons?

For decades there was little to no rehabilitative or maintenance work done on our police stations and lock-ups islandwide. The state of too many police stations reflect the inaction and lip service that has been paid to crime-fighting over many years.

The Andrew Holness-led Administration has made it clear that it will take strong and decisive action concerning crime in this country. Along with the states of public emergency and the zones of special operations, which represent the operational response of the state, the Ministry of National Security has repaired over 40 police stations and has made allocations to rehabilitate all 186 police stations across the island over the next two years.

The issue of sanitation in Montego Bay has not affected the lock-ups alone. For years, police officers have complained of unsanitary conditions to no avail. According to the chief public health inspector for St James, Lennox Wallace, when recommendations are made, issues are immediately given attention and compliance levels are satisfactory. With a capacity of 220, at present there are 178 individuals held for various reasons, and only 49 detainees at the Freeport lock-up. While conditions are not ideal at this location, as with many others across the island, the work to rehabilitate and rebuild has already begun.

Some comments in the public domain to suggest unusual or extraordinary conditions are misleading and disingenuous.

In 2017, St James alone recorded a murder rate of 322. In a city of only 180,000 residents, with a homicide rate of 150 per 100,000, this was a homicide epidemic. This figure represented one of the highest murder rates anywhere in the world.

The efforts of the combined security forces have begun to yield fruit. The issues that led Jamaica to this state of lawlessness and bloodshed did not happen overnight. Consequently, the work to restore public safety certainly will not be accomplished in a few months.

Since January 2018 to date St James has recorded a 70 per cent reduction in murders. Today, at least 216 citizens are alive and 100 children continue to have parental support, guidance and love.

Howard O Chamberlain Jr


Young Jamaica

(The Youth Arm of the Jamaica Labour Party)

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