Trinidad & Tobago’s Justice Minister Emmanuel George and new Prisons Commissioner Conrad Barrow headed a delegation that visited detention facilities in Ontario and met with high-ranking Correctional Service Canada (CSC) officials recently.
The visit comes less than a year after T & T Prison Service and CSC signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and a four-member CSC team, led by Commissioner Don Head was in the twin-island republic to review infrastructure and programs.
The T & T contingent visited the Millhaven, Collins Bay and Frontenac institutions.
Last year, the T & T government agreed to the construction of a new remand centre at Golden Grove.
“We came to have a look at the state-of-the-art facilities here and see what we can take away as we prepare to build our new centre,” said George. “We also got an insight into some of the programs and that was very useful as we are looking to utilize a more scientific approach to manage offenders in our institutions and establish correctional programs and policies that will address attitudes and behaviours of inmates.”
George said there are at least 10 bidders seeking the contract to build the new facility on 25 acres of land.
“In the next few months, we will assess the tenders,” he added. “By that time, we will have a fair sense of what the facility should look like.”
There are nine correctional facilities in T & T, including one in sister island Tobago.
Barrow, who replaced Martin Martinez as the new commissioner on March 10, said there is a need for a new penal institution along new and enhanced programs and services, ranging from intervention and support to case management and structured recreation, for remand prisoners.
“The prison population in the country is about 3,700 and there is a need for additional space,” added Barrow who has a law degree from the University of London and a Master’s from Cambridge University.
Construction on the new facility is expected to take close to 18 months.
The visiting T & T delegation, which paid a courtesy call on consul general Dr. Vidhya Gyan Tota-Maharaj, also included senior superintendent of prisons Dane Clarke, Ministry of Justice officials Melba Didier and Louis Nurse, prison officers’ association general secretary Gerard Gordon and Urban Development Corporation of T & T Ltd. representatives Abena Richards and Chris Jagroop.