In the News

In the News



PM opens new remand centre

Observer Report
Wednesday, October 31, 2001

PRIME Minister P J Patterson yesterday opened a new adult remand centre in Kingston, emphasising that it was not a prison and that it met United Nations standards.

"The centre is constructed to house remandees, that is persons who are awaiting trials in the courts... It has the capacity to hold 1,024 persons -- 996 males and 30 females," Patterson said.

According to Patterson, the J$300-million Horizon Adult Remand Centre, located at 68 Spanish Town Road on the old Things Jamaican compound, would help to reduce the overcrowding in Jamaica's prisons, as it would house a number of the persons now in prison awaiting trial.

"The problems of overcrowding and escapes, which now occur in the lock-ups in the Corporate Area, will be significantly reduced and hopefully totally eliminated," the prime minister said.

According to Patterson, the construction of the remand centre was in keeping with the government's commitment to safeguard the constitutional and human rights of all Jamaicans.

"Very often, complaints are heard about human rights abuse, but this government has put the proper laws in place to deal with this," Patterson said. He argued that his People's National Party had struggled for many decades to secure individual and collective rights for Jamaicans and said that they had "never reneged on that and do not intend now to sully that record".

Patterson said the remand centre is expected to be occupied by the end of November and will be managed by the Department of Correctional Services, instead of the police.
Among the centre's facilities are:

* a courtroom for bail hearings and other high security
cases such as extradition;
* telephone service for remandees;
* a room for remandees to meet with their legal
* medical, dental, recreational, probational and
counselling facilities, as well as a holding area; and
* separate areas for laundry, food preparation and

The siting of the remand centre in that area was a major issue of contention for the surrounding communities, and some residents expressed open opposition to the plan. Yesterday Patterson addressed the issue, saying "everybody wants a centre anywhere but in their communities, but we just have to establish good relations between the community and the centre."
Construction of the centre started in November 2000.