Security ministry says 5 correctional officers, 3 inmates charged in latest prison crack down
KINGSTON, Jamaica — The Ministry of National Security today reported that increased security measures implemented in the nation’s correctional facilities in recent weeks, have resulted in the arrest and charge of correctional services staff, as well as inmates alleged to have acted in consort with staff and individuals outside of the institutions.
The ministry, in a news release a short while ago, said investigators working in tandem with the leadership of the Department of Correctional Services (DCS), have seized 36 mobile telephones at the Tower Street Adult Correctional Centre, and an additional four mobile phones at the Tamarind Farm facility in a series of probes, which continued over the past weekend.
Several other digital devices including SIM cards and an iPad were also seized during the crackdown.
Four correctional officers have been charged in connection with these finds in an ongoing probe led by the Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Agency (MOCA).
A fifth correctional officer was arrested on the weekend, and three inmates who were charged for various offences are being prosecuted while in custody.
State Minister in the Ministry of National Security Senator Pearnel Charles Jr, reserved special commendations to several persons who came forward with information on criminal activities in the correctional institutions, as he lauded the combined work of the DCS, MOCA, the Jamaica Constabulary Force and the Jamaica Defence Force.
“We are creating an enabling environment that supports greater levels of professionalism in the DCS. The door remains open for anyone with information on illegal activities in the correctional institutions to tell what they know. Persons may call the MOCA toll-free line 1800-CORRUPT in confidence”, said Charles, who has portfolio responsibility for the management of the correctional system.
“The ministry’s objective is clear. We will root out any person conducting criminal activities in our correctional facilities. Our targets are criminals, be they inmates or individuals who may be wearing the uniform of a correctional officer”, said Charles.
“I have met again with the Special Security Unit assembled to reduce and eliminate these security risks in our correctional system. In the national security interest, we will continue to review and fine-tune our plans in a multi-faceted approach to the systemic challenges we face”, continued Senator Charles.
On February 28, the minister of state announced several sweeping measures to strengthen the internal controls in all correctional institutions, and to deter corruption and the conduct of criminal activity within the facilities.
Among the key security measures being implemented are:
1. Amendments to existing legislation, regulations and procedures to increase accountability and enforcement.
2. The installation of X-Ray Scanning Machines at Tower Street and St Catherine Adult Correctional Centres and the Horizon Adult Remand Centre.
3. Metal detectors and New Entry Management Protocols
4. Polygraphing of all recruits and correctional officer.
5. Relocation of Inmates and Re-zoning spaces in all institutions.
6. Expanded CCTV coverage across the Correctional System
7. Enhanced use of cellular phone jamming technology.
The Department of Correctional Services manages nearly 4,000 inmates in seven adult correctional centres, one remand centre and four juvenile facilities.