Monday, Dec 16, 2019
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Prime minister says prison upgrades underway

Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis announced last night that several areas at the Bahamas Department of Correctional Services will see an overhaul, with some of them on track to be complete by year’s end.

Minnis’ announcement follows the most recent human rights report from the U.S. State Department highlighting highly poor conditions at the facility.

“We are making renovations and repairs to the maximum security facility,” said Minnis during his second national address for the year.

“A new rehabilitative dormitory and kitchen are expected to be completed this year.”

The living conditions at the Fox Hill facility have been a long-standing human rights issue. 

According to the U.S. report released earlier this month, prison conditions have failed to meet international standards once again.

It lists “overcrowding, poor nutrition, and inadequate sanitation and ventilation” as some of the issues at the facilities.

“Prisoners also reported infrequent access to drinking water and inability to save potable water due to lack of storage containers for the prisoners,” the report said.

“Many cells also lacked running water, and in those cells, inmates removed human waste by bucket. Sanitation was a general problem, with cells infested with rats, maggots, and insects.

“Ventilation was also a general problem. Prisoners in maximum security had access to sanitary facilities only one hour a day and used slop buckets as toilets.” 

Minnis did not mention installing toilets or sanitary facilities during his address.

He, however, did point to personal development programs at the prison, aimed to reduce recidivism. 

“To reduce crime, we must reduce the rate of re-offending,” Minnis said.

“The Bahamas Department of Correctional Services has increased the number of participants in personal development programs, and employability opportunities, through the Work Release Programs.

“One hundred and twenty-four inmates, both male and female, graduated from BTVI concentrating in subjects such as auto mechanics, barbering, carpentry, computers, electrical work, garment making, plumbing and masonry.

“Seven correctional officers, enrolled at BTVI to become certified instructors of inmates in the aforementioned subjects.”

Minnis noted that a more extensive needs and feasibility assessment is being carried out for building an additional facility, to house training and rehabilitative programs for more inmates.

“These initiatives are a part of a broader strategy to help inmates to become better equipped with the necessary tools to re-enter society while lessening the risk of re-offending,” he added.

Sloan Smith

Staff Reporter at The Nassau Guardian
Sloan covers national news for The Nassau Guardian. Sloan officially joined the news team in September 2016 but interned at The Nassau Guardian while studying journalism at the University of The Bahamas.
Education: Vrije Universiteit Brussel (University of Brussels), MA in Mass Communications

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