(JAMAICA GLEANER) – The Department of Correctional Services says effective Monday, March 16, all external visits to the facilities will be suspended for two weeks.
The department says this is to help decrease the likelihood of the spread of the coronavirus within correctional facilities islandwide.
During this period, the public will not be allowed to take food or care packages to correctional centres.
Although Probation Aftercare Offices are still operational, walk-in visits to these locations are also suspended.
At the end of the two weeks the suspensions will be subject to further review.
Commissioner of Corrections, Lieutenant Colonel (Ret’d) Gary Rowe, said the decision to suspend visits was made in consultation with health officials, external stakeholders and follows the Government’s decision to halt all public gatherings.
“We understand that relatives may be concerned about the well-being of their loved ones within state care. However, we wish to advise that we have been preparing for weeks for this eventuality and we are prepared to manage the environment. We will do everything within our power to safeguard the health and wellness of our inmates, wards and staff. During this time, we will make provisions for relatives and friends of inmates to communicate with the staff at the respective facilities for any clarification,” said Rowe in a statement.
He added that other methods of prevention include inmate and staff sensitisation about the coronavirus and increased supply of sanitisers, hand soaps and sanitisation of surface areas.
It was outlined that the department’s medical health staff is in continued dialogue with the Ministry of Health and Wellness to prepare for any eventuality.
Over 4000 inmates are currently housed at correctional facilities across Jamaica.