Minister for National Security and Public Safety, Steadroy “Cutie” Benjamin said he is currently in talks with Chief of Defence Staff Col Trevor Thomas to implement measures that will improve sanitation within the prison over the next three months.
At present, three inmates from Her Majesty’s Prison (HMP) have been diagnosed with methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and are quarantined at Mount St John’s Medical Centre (MSJMC) for treatment and observation.
MRSA is a strain of antibiotic-resistant bacteria that causes staph skin infections capable of dividing every half-hour.
Benjamin believes that the outbreak is due to lingering prison maintenance matters that are yet to be addressed.
“We are aware that over the past several years, we have had reports — not only in Antigua but also in other Caribbean islands — that our prison population … the housing was totally inadequate,” he told OBSERVER media.
Benjamin said his ministry will ensure that HMP remains clean to prevent further spread of the bacteria.
In the meantime, the government is working expeditiously to lower the prison population, he added.
“There is a Convict Licence Act, provisions where persons are released; we’re now looking at releasing remanded prisoners who have been incarcerated for a very, very long time,” the minister explained.
Benjamin reiterated that the government is in discussion with a number of institutional bodies which are prepared to help build a new prison suitable for the 21st century.
(More in today’s Daily Observer)