MANDEVILLE, Manchester — A review is to be done to determine the long-term use of the now-closed Diamond Crest facility in Alligator Pond, which served as a correctional centre for adults and juveniles at separate times.
World of the review was shared Wednesday with journalists by permanent secretary in the Ministry of National Security Courtney Williams following a tour of the facility which he described as a "valuable asset".
"With this kind of asset we have to make sure we [get] the best utility from it, and that is why we have made the decision [to] look at these facilities and from that [determine] how best to utilise them so at the end of the day the Jamaican public will be the key beneficiary," Williams said.
He explained that the facility was closed in 2019 after it was earmarked for renovation, but due to the extensive work needed, including the installation of a septic tank, the project was shelved.
In 2009 Diamond Crest accommodated wards of the State who were formerly housed at Armadale Juvenile Correctional Centre in St Ann after a fire at the latter facility claimed the lives of seven girls.
Williams, however, said the ministry will have to do a thorough cost-benefit analysis as rehabilitating the facility will come at a significant cost.
"At the same time we will have to look at what is the benefit that we will [get] from that, and based on the net outcome we make a decision from that," he said.
Minister of state in the Ministry of National Security Zavia Mayne agreed with Williams as he said an evaluation of the facility will have to be done.
"…. When we look at these facilities we want to first make sure that they are fit for purpose. [It] extends way beyond the state and condition of them. We have to look at location, proximity to critical services — health care, police station. As you know, this facility is substantially off the main and that is a relevant consideration that we will have to apply our minds to in making a decision as to what we do with this facility," he said, adding that there is "limited staff" at the facility.
"My understanding is, there are two staff [members] per shift here but, of course, you can understand why it is important to protect and maintain a property, because if you don't care for it somebody else will," he said.
Mayne and Williams also toured New Broughton Correctional Centre at Cross Keys in southern Manchester on Wednesday.