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Offer Still on the Table: Britain Says It’s Still Open to Discussing Building Prison in Jamaica

More than 300 Jamaican prisoners serving time in British jails are being given the boot back to their homeland OUTGOING BRITISH HIGH COMMISSIONER DAVID FITTON

Britain still appears ready and able to construct a multi-billion-dollar prison in Jamaica once it gets the green light from that island’s government

Back in January, the Andrew Holness administration flatly rejected the offer by the UK.

Leader of Government Business Karina Johnson-Smith had told the Jamaica Parliament that the UK offer was “not beneficial to Jamaica as a whole.”

Six months later, outgoing British High Commissioner David Fitton has told the Jamaica Gleaner: “If the Government were even to want to discuss it again, my door would be open, as with my colleagues in London.”

The idea was first tabled by former British Prime Minister David Cameron during an official visit to Kingston in 2015.

The offer was reportedly made to break a deadlock in negotiations over a prison transfer deal between the two countries.

At the time, there were claims that more than 600 Jamaican nationals were in UK jails but could not be deported because of Jamaica’s poor prison conditions.

Under the terms of a non-binding memorandum of understanding signed between Jamaica and the UK in 2015, Britain was expected to transfer 300 prisoners in British jails to complete their sentences back home.

High Commissioner Fitton assured there was no bad blood between the two countries over the issue, saying that Britain respected the Government’s position.

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David-Cameron-Portia-Simpson-Miller-Jamaica

Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller (right), looks on as Chief of Defence Staff, Major General Antony Anderson is introduced to Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (UK), the Rt. Hon. David Cameron (third right), by British High Commissioner to Jamaica, His Excellency David Fitton (left). (Dave Reid image/JIS)

More than 300 Jamaican prisoners serving time in British jails are being given the boot back to their homeland as Prime Minister David Cameron made the first visit by a UK Prime Minister to Jamaica in 14 years.

The prisoners will be returned back to their homelands to serve their sentence under an agreement signed by the UK and Jamaica today and concluded after years of negotiations. Cameron landed on the Caribbean island last evening. He is accompanied by Justine Greening, from the Department for International Development.

Sixty-nine percent of sentenced Jamaican prisoners were serving sentences for violence and drug offences. As of June 30, 2015, there were 619 Jamaican nationals in prisons in England and Wales. Approx 60% of these were serving sentences of 4 years or more, including indeterminate sentences.

“It is absolutely right that foreign criminals who break our laws are properly punished but this shouldn’t be at the expense of the hardworking British taxpayer,” PM Cameron commented. “That’s why this agreement is so important. It will mean Jamaican criminals are sent back home to serve their sentences, saving the British taxpayer millions of pounds but still ensuring justice is done. And it will help Jamaica, by helping to provide a new prison – strengthening their criminal justice system.”

The UK will provide £25 million from the government’s existing aid budget to help fund the construction of a new 1500 bed prison in Jamaica, overcoming one of the sticking points in the negotiations which had been the conditions in existing prisons in Jamaica. The prison is expected to be built by 2020 and from then returns will get underway.

The Prisoner Transfer Agreement is expected to save British taxpayers around £10 million a year once the first prisoners are returned from 2020 onwards.

The agreement provides for the transfer of prisoners who have received sentences of 4 years or more and who have 18 months or more left to serve in custody. The average annual cost of a prison place in the UK is £25,900.

PM Cameron is on a two-day official visit to the island where he is expected to address a joint sitting of the houses of Parliament today, Wednesday, September 30th.

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Comment by rastafari on October 2, 2015 at 11:10am

...the underlying attitude...as for I, one of the most disturbing the thing about the announcement of the building of a multi million dollar prison system that would house Jamaicans serving time in Britain jails, at the expense of the British taxpayers, was the fact that PM Cameron said the issue of reparations for the U K's involvement in slavery wasn't on the agenda and his stance on the matter is and was that of his predecessors!!! He didn't even want to address the Jamaican media...it's like as if he came to Jamaica to tell us what his government wanted to do, without our input, like in the days of slavery which, up to now, they still refuse to recompense us for the damage done to our development as a race and as a nation of people, and don't even want to hear any talk about it!!! Why because in their conceited minds it is but a painful moment in time and history, that now should be just forgotten about, and we should move on...simply as that!!! I read that some MP's deliberately stayed away from Cameron's visit because of his stance on the reparations issue...on behalf of the Jamaican people, I think the head of Jamaica should have also out rightly and resoundingly rejected Cameron's (U K) plan, and I hope the Jamaican people don't stand for it either. Having said that, if the Queen don't want to pay us for England's role in our enslavement, then she must know that a free and independent Jamaica will sever all ties with her principalities and powers in our government, just as the U. S. did in her battle for independence from her dominion, being a fragment of the shattered Roman Empire. If we are to be subjects of any dominion and kingdom, then it must be that of the Holy Ethiopian Empire...I dare say if Jamaicans truly want to be free and independent, among other things, we should begin by renaming our parishes after our great ancestors instead of keeping them named after our former slave masters...freed but still under bondage...how do you see it?

Comment by Lemara Tone on September 30, 2015 at 12:09pm
At least there will be more jobs then
Comment by Lemara Tone on September 30, 2015 at 12:07pm
Something to ponder about. At least the UK tax payers wont be funding theses prisoners anymore. The Jamaican tax payers will in 2020

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