News24

US plans to build 2 prisons in Haiti

2013-02-16 11:30

Port-au-Prince - The US government plans to build two prisons in Haiti's countryside in an effort to stem severe overcrowding, disease and violence in the poor Caribbean nation's prison system, a US official said on Friday.

Carl Siebentritt, director of the Narcotics Affairs Section at the US Embassy, wrote in an e-mail to AP that a prison will be built in each of the coastal towns of Petit Goave and Cabaret.

"Prisons are so overcrowded that detainees are held in temporary holding cells at police stations," Siebentritt wrote. "By constructing new prisons that are consistent with international human rights standards, the [US state] department seeks to alleviate this overcrowding and to reduce the spread of disease and violence."

The department's Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs estimates that the project will cost between $5m and $10m, public records say.

The penitentiary planned for Cabaret, a town 32km northwest of Haiti's capital, will hold women and help reduce crowding at a women's prison in the Port-au-Prince area. It will have 200 beds.

It will also include a textile operation that will employ up to 15 women and a vocational training programme.

The prison planned for Petit Goave, a town 70km southwest of Port-au-Prince, will have 150 beds and replace one that was destroyed in 2004 following the ouster of president Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

Contract bids are due in early March, Siebentritt said.

The project is part of a larger effort by foreign governments and aid groups to improve conditions in Haiti's prisons, which have been described as some of the world's worst.

The prisons are notoriously overcrowded and unsanitary, and inmates often take turns sleeping at night because of lack of space.

The crowded facilities stem in large part because of a dysfunctional justice system in which the majority of prisoners haven't seen a judge or been convicted of a crime.

Inadequate record-keeping has made it difficult to confirm the number of inmates held in prolonged detention, but the state department estimates the number is between 2 000 and 3 000.

Dr John May, a South Florida physician who co-founded a non-profit that seeks to improve health conditions in prisons worldwide, said he made a medical trip last fall to the police station in Petit Goave, where 128 inmates were locked up in a holding cell.

The single room didn't have beds or running water, and the prisoners had scabies or suffered from malnutrition, mental illness and high blood pressure, he said.

"I'm very grateful some assistance is being delivered to the prison programme," May said. "Prisoners are often forgotten."

Comments
  • ClassWarTrotsky - 2013-02-16 12:42

    CIA black ops secret detention facility. Guantanamo #2

      avremel.niselow - 2013-02-16 22:26

      Another commie still mourning the loss if the Cold War. Sad really.

  • eric.f.moloi - 2013-02-16 12:45

    Thy must also build thm RDPs,prisons alone r nt enough,unless US is up to something

      sterling.ferguson.397 - 2013-02-16 16:40

      The Canadian government gave money to Haiti to build roads in that country and to build a clean water system. The Haiti government led by Baby Doc didn't take some the money they used the African mindset by taking all of the money. When the Canadian government sent people to Haiti to inspect the roads and water system there weren't no roads built or water system. If the US is going to build anything Haiti, I hope they send people down there to make sure it's done.

      fidel.uncensored - 2013-02-17 06:08

      Eric, the US houses its homeless in its prisons!

  • Michael Hawthorne - 2013-02-16 12:47

    How about building schools?

      avremel.niselow - 2013-02-16 20:02

      Always looking a gift horse in the mouth, someone helps, and all that is heard are complaints.

  • zebsonm - 2013-02-16 19:12

    what a generous gesture but i suspect international terrorists will most likely be going there.Yes guantanamo no.2

  • fidel.uncensored - 2013-02-17 08:00

    Wasn't Haiti once a French penal colony. Isn't were Pappilon was shot!

  • fidel.uncensored - 2013-02-17 09:05

    It's called "capitalism" and it is spelled Prison Inc. 25% of the world's total prison population resides in US. They lock up more people per head of population than all those 'evil' countries like North Korea, Russia, China, Iran. How can privatisation of American prisons possibly provide any profit to the shareholders if you don't stuff the prisons with prisoners and have sentences eight times longer than those in Europe. The so called war on drugs is a farce, just like its other namesake! Show me the money!

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