Construction of new prison in Tobago is again on the front burner.
At Wednesday’s virtual post Executive Council news conference, THA Chief Secretary Farley Augustine said a prison for the island was one of the topics discussed during Monday’s meeting with the Prime Minister, Cabinet members and members of the THA Executive Council, at the Prime Minister’s official residence in Blenheim.
Augustine said the conditions at the holding area at Scarborough Police Station are deplorable.
“Prisoners are no longer held at Scarborough Police Station for any long periods of time. In fact, I was reliably informed that we now hold the male prisoners at Roxborough, the juveniles at Shirvan and the women at Crown Point, but the prison conditions there are deplorable, and we have been talking about a prison for Tobago for a long time.”
Augustine said the THA is seeking to identify land space for the construction of a prison.
He said the implementation of restorative justice at this new prison will be important.
“We’re not going to build jails; we are going to build a centre that will aid in restorative justice that can treat with our juveniles and can also treat with our women. So, it’s a sort of a holistic kind of an approach to what we need for the Tobago space…
“For that to happen, we have to do that ourselves. It cannot be healthy for family life and family development that those who find themselves on the wrong side of the law have to be carted off to Trinidad and that you family members, young people, children and so on have to make your way all the way to Trinidad just to have access to your loved ones who should be rehabilitated.”
He said a location for the prison was previously chosen, but it was deemed as inappropriate.
“I can tell you, for example, one of those areas that was being looked at previously was in the Bacolet area. That’s behind the health centre and next to that housing community – I can tell you that that area was deemed inappropriate and so no prison would go in that area. We will look for an appropriate place and we’ll let you know.”
Additionally, he said the discussions were held on the conditions officers of various national security arms have to work under. He said although national security is not a function of the THA, “it is in my interest rather for me to advocate on their behalf.”
At the commissioning for the Shirvan Road police station in 2018, then Minister of National Security Stuart Young said he was left disturbed by the deplorable conditions of Tobago’s detention facilities.
In November 2020, Prisons Commissioner Dennis Pulchan toured the new Tobago Correctional Facility in Glen Road, Scarborough. The building was used previously by the Department of Marine Resources and Fisheries.
However, Residents complained that they were not consulted prior to its opening and demanded it be removed. They said that the correctional facility created a security threat which left senior citizens in the area uneasy. Former chief secretary Ancil Dennis, after protests and consultation with residents, announced a reversal of the decision to house inmates there.