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Human Rights Report highlights poor conditions at HMP, again

A view of the wall and main gate at Her Majesty's Prison in St John's. (File photo/OBSERVER media)

A view of the wall and main gate at Her Majesty’s Prison in St John’s. (File photo/OBSERVER media)

Inhumane conditions at Her Majesty’s Prison (HMP) has caught the attention of US officials, for the fifth consecutive year, as indicated by the latest publication of its Human Rights Report.

“Poor prison conditions” was named as one of the two most serious human rights problems in Antigua & Barbuda.

“The prison had inadequate toilet facilities, with slop pails used in all cells except for those of female prisoners and remanded prisoners. There were unsanitary conditions in the kitchen, including the presence of insects, raw meat on the ground, stray cats, and an overwhelmingly unpleasant odour,” the report detailed.

It also singled out physical conditions like poor ventilation, which caused very high prison cell temperatures as well as unsanitary conditions in the kitchen, and indicated that the superintendent was unable to promote the required standards of hygiene within the facility.

Additionally, the report said conditions there were “harsh “with “extreme overcrowding”, and provided data to show that inmate count at HMP increased from 154 in 2011 to 370 by 2015.

“The prison, designed to hold a maximum of 150 inmates, held 356 males and 14 female prisoners, a total of 370 prisoners, as of October. Authorities separated remanded prisoners from convicted prisoners when space was available.”

It stated further that there was no space available to house the juveniles in separate cells, and noted that prison officials held four male juvenile prisoners in the same building as adult prisoners.

There were also reports, by Superintendent Albert Wade, of bribery, corruption and suspected gang violence, and he was quoted as saying that these were common practices in the prison, with guards allegedly taking bribes and smuggling contraband, liquor, cell phones, and marijuana to prisoners.
Wade reported, however, that the firing of several corrupt guards helped to improve the smuggling problem thereafter.

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A view of the wall and main gate at Her Majesty's Prison in St John's. (File photo/OBSERVER media)

A view of the wall and main gate at Her Majesty’s Prison in St John’s. (File photo/OBSERVER media)

Inhumane conditions at Her Majesty’s Prison (HMP) has caught the attention of US officials, for the fifth consecutive year, as indicated by the latest publication of its Human Rights Report.

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“Poor prison conditions” was named as one of the two most serious human rights problems in Antigua & Barbuda.

“The prison had inadequate toilet facilities, with slop pails used in all cells except for those of female prisoners and remanded prisoners. There were unsanitary conditions in the kitchen, including the presence of insects, raw meat on the ground, stray cats, and an overwhelmingly unpleasant odour,” the report detailed.

It also singled out physical conditions like poor ventilation, which caused very high prison cell temperatures as well as unsanitary conditions in the kitchen, and indicated that the superintendent was unable to promote the required standards of hygiene within the facility.

Additionally, the report said conditions there were “harsh “with “extreme overcrowding”, and provided data to show that inmate count at HMP increased from 154 in 2011 to 370 by 2015.

“The prison, designed to hold a maximum of 150 inmates, held 356 males and 14 female prisoners, a total of 370 prisoners, as of October. Authorities separated remanded prisoners from convicted prisoners when space was available.”

It stated further that there was no space available to house the juveniles in separate cells, and noted that prison officials held four male juvenile prisoners in the same building as adult prisoners.

There were also reports, by Superintendent Albert Wade, of bribery, corruption and suspected gang violence, and he was quoted as saying that these were common practices in the prison, with guards allegedly taking bribes and smuggling contraband, liquor, cell phones, and marijuana to prisoners.
Wade reported, however, that the firing of several corrupt guards helped to improve the smuggling problem thereafter.