Reject UK’s £25-m prison deal, Young Jamaica tells Gov’t

Kingston, Jamaica — The youth arm of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) is urging the Jamaican Parliament to flatly and unanimously reject the terms of the Memorandum (MOU) of Understanding signed between Jamaica’s Security Ministry and the government of the United Kingdom.

According to Young Jamaica, the MOU, which would see the construction of a maximum security prison to house Jamaicans convicted in the UK, does not serve or enhance Jamaica’s strategic development goals and represents “selling the Jamaican people a 6 for a 9.”

“We have taken note of Prime Minister Cameron’s insistence that British taxpayers should not be required to bear the costs of housing foreign criminals. However, we believe it is important for him to explain who exactly qualifies as a foreign criminal. We do not, for instance, accept that a Jamaican who has lived in the UK from a young age, and who has been formed by that society, who commits crimes there should be sent back to Jamaica to serve his/her sentence, whether in part or as a whole,” the organisation said in a release today.

“This is especially true when one considers Jamaica’s well entrenched problem of criminality. This agreement would only compound our domestic crime situation and for the government to try to talk up the so called benefits of this arrangement is to try to pull wool over our eyes, we are being offered a 6 for a 9, plain and simple.”

The JLP youth arm says the cost to operate the prison will be a setback for the people of Jamaica. It says Jamaica does not have the financial resources to operate a new prison at this time as it would mean more taxes on the backs of the Jamaican people.

Young Jamaica says taken in the context of the current social and economic climate facing the country, the agreement is ill advised and borders on being offensive.

“What our members are also questioning is whether the announced 25 million pounds will cover the full costs of constructing this prison and whether the UK is committing to its upkeep.

We have little confidence that that is the case, and as the British PM would protect his taxpayers from foreign born criminals, we believe our Parliament should protect our taxpayers from foreign bred and potentially dangerous criminals. It is unconscionable to suggest that an individual simply being born here means our taxpayers are obligated to stand these costs” says the organization’s President Howard Chamberlain

“This agreement sends the wrong signal and flies in the face of the continued calls for reparations.”The organization notes that Jamaica’s strategic priorities at this time must be geared towards generating economic growth, building schools and creating employment for the thousands currently suffering in this economy.

“We welcome our party leader’s firm declaration to Mr. Cameron that building schools contribute much more to growth than building prisons. That ought to be the priority of this government,” Chamberlain added.

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