Prison opens doors  to public
December 23, 2004
Prison opens doors to public

Nearly 100 persons spent last week Monday viewing the reality at Her Majesty’s Prisons during “Open Day” as activities marking Prison Week continued.

The guided tours offered the public an opportunity to walk through the prison facilities and learn about the operations and programmes carried out at the male penal institution. {{more}}Prison officials allowed the visitors to view the kitchen area, the bakery, the drug rehabilitation room, and sleeping quarters. We were however, not allowed to take photographs during this visit.

Most obvious to us was the absence of mattresses on some of the wooden bunks in the cells we visited. Visitors were told the mattresses were destroyed during the 1999 prison uprisings when prisoners lit their mattresses afire.

Chief Prison Officer Brenton Charles briefed our visiting party about prisoners’ living conditions, the prison population and ways the public can contribute to the smooth running of the penal institution.

And in the season of giving, an appeal has been thrown out to the public to donate reading materials and a welding machine to facilitate the prison’s mechanic programme.

Prisoners are encouraged to learn various skills such as carpentry, tailoring, mechanics and baking as part of the prison rehabilitation.

Currently 25 prisoners are participating in a drug rehabilitation programme, a pilot project by the Organization of American States (OAS). Prison warder Orlando White described the sessions as therapeutic. He disclosed that inmates are also encouraged to share their experiences and read educational materials about the hazards of drugs.

Fashioned after the British model, Her Majesty’s Prisons was established in 1872 to house 75 prisoners. Today the prison is home for some 400 inmates, 32 of them foreign nationals. One startling statistic of note is that 90 per cent of the inmates are under the age of 35.