Young: Prison conferencing facility by year's end

The long await­ed video con­fer­enc­ing fa­cil­i­ty at the Gold­en Grove Prison will be com­plet­ed by the Ju­di­cia­ry. This was re­vealed yes­ter­day by Min­is­ter of Na­tion­al Se­cu­ri­ty Stu­art Young dur­ing a func­tion in Port-of-Spain where he hand­ed over the first batch of 250 stab-proof vests for prison of­fi­cers.

In mak­ing the an­nounce­ment, Young ex­pressed dis­ap­point­ment that the fa­cil­i­ty, which will con­sist of sev­en video con­fer­enc­ing courts, is still to be com­plet­ed. While he did not give rea­sons for the project's de­lay, se­nior prison sources told Guardian Me­dia it had been ham­pered by ma­jor con­trac­tu­al is­sues.

“I re­cent­ly had Cab­i­net ap­prove the re­moval of that from a state agency and put it in­to UDe­COTT, but now I have gone fur­ther than that and I have en­gaged in con­ver­sa­tion with the Ju­di­cia­ry and they have agreed with me that they will take over.

The struc­ture is up but it just needs to be fin­ished now.

They will take over the struc­ture as is, where is, and they will com­plete it for video con­fer­enc­ing courts,” the min­is­ter said, adding that he ex­pects the project to be com­plet­ed with­in 12 months.

Young al­so an­nounced that with­in the next few weeks a suite of leg­is­la­tion will be laid in the Par­lia­ment that will ben­e­fit pris­ons, fire, po­lice and De­fence Force per­son­nel.

The leg­is­la­tion, which is cur­rent­ly be­fore a re­view com­mit­tee, is geared to­wards the pro­tec­tion of of­fi­cers and in­creas­es sen­tences and fines for a range of of­fences,

Young said To­ba­go will soon get a state-of-the-art prison. He said a ten-acre site has been iden­ti­fied and draw­ings are ready.

On the is­sue of firearms for pris­ons of­fi­cers, Young said Gov­ern­ment is fi­nal­is­ing the pro­cure­ment process and is hop­ing it will be com­plet­ed “very short­ly.”

“We will be us­ing the keep and car­ry sys­tem and it's in the hands of the Pris­ons Com­mis­sion­er to de­ter­mine who gets to car­ry it home and for how long.

I just want to be able to pro­vide more as­sets for more util­i­sa­tion.

My un­der­stand­ing is we should be award­ing the con­tract very short­ly,” he said.

Reporter: Rhondor Dowlat

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