COVID-19: Visits at state prison suspended indefinitely

State prison at Stockfarm, Superintendent Jean-Jacques

Visitation at the Dominica State Prison has been suspended indefinitely amidst concerns over the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19).

Superintendent of the state prison, Kenrick Jean-Jacques told Dominica News Online (DNO) on Friday that people dropping off food to family and friends at the prison are not allowed on the compound. He said, instead, they are asked to hand over the food to an officer at the gate.

“What we have done is suspend visits, we are allowing visitors to drop off money or some fruits and vegetables to persons,” he stated. “These items we have to wash properly before we pass it on to the inmates. We wash them, some in saltwater and some in some bleach.”

He said there’s a canteen at the state prison where inmates can buy food when they receive money from visitors.

Though indicating that a special area has been set up for new inmates coming into the prison facility, Jean-Jacques said he hopes that there aren’t “too many”.

“If we receive new inmates from outside, they will not join our general population right away; they will be quarantined for at least two weeks,” he stated.

Prisoners are now able to make more calls to their relatives, “to keep in touch with them,” Jean-Jacques also revealed.

According to the prison superintendent, despite the availability of single cells at the facility,  because of its current population, two or three inmates may be placed in single cells.

Meantime, he said that in addition to the suspension of visitations to the prison, there are other preventive measures in place at the facility.

“When anyone comes to the prison, officers included, we do a quick check on their body temperature; they are given hand sanitizer. A sink was also placed in the entrance where people are asked to wash their hands, and we installed more face basins,” Jean-Jacques  said.

Prison officers are also encouraged to wear masks and gloves in order to protect themselves.

“We are also asking our officers to be very careful when they go out…exercise social distancing and to avoid being in a crowded environment,” Jean-Jacques added.

He said measures are also being put in place to assist prison officers with transportation.

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