The government is to announce new arrangements for the provision of medical care to bedridden and mentally ill inmates at correctional facilities.
Matthew Samuda, Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of National Security, made the disclosure on Thursday.
"We've been putting a lot of work into the issues surrounding our mentally ill inmates and the issues surrounding our bedridden inmates. Very soon we will announce the new arrangement for our bedridden inmates to receive significantly greater care while they are housed in a different facility. Some of them, we believe, as they go through the process to the courts, will be released soon. Those that are not released soon because the courts do not see it fit to do, will be in a facility that can provide the type of care that all human beings who are infirmed should receive. So that is a step that we are taking now," Mr. Samuda said during the unveiling of two new boiler units at the Tamarind Farm Adult Correctional Centre.
Earlier this year, the government said action would be taken to prevent a repeat of the tragedy involving 81-year-old Noel Chambers, who died after 40 years in prison without trial.
Mr. Chambers, whose body bore bedsores and bites from bedbugs, had been held at the pleasure of the Governor General after being charged with murder.
Mr. Samuda said the parole board has been meeting more frequently to facilitate hearings amid the spike in COVID-19 cases at penal institutions.
"...The parole board has committed to meeting as often as is necessary, as soon as project files are prepared, to ensure that persons are given a fair hearing to determine if they can be released so they are not held within our facilities any longer than they need to be. And the truth is this should happen with or without COVID, but with the emergency of COVID, it puts...the importance of this taking place at a high."
Earlier this month, Stand Up for Jamaica and other human rights groups called for the government to develop a system for some inmates to be released early.
However, Minister of National Security Dr. Horace Chang said the early release of inmates would not be practical at this time.