An independent senator has described the abandoned Glendairy Prison as a gold mine on which Government has failed to capitalize.
Professor Sir Henry Fraser said former prisons around the world had become national treasures and major tourist attractions, and he was convinced of Glendairy Prisons’ potential to generate significant income for the country, while also being used to assist in the rehabilitation of former prisoners.
Sir Henry, an architectural historian and former dean of the faculty of Medical Sciences at the Cave Hill Campus of the University of the West Indies, was speaking today in the Senate on the Criminal Records (Rehabilitation of Offenders) Amendment Bill.
He explained that a report on the potential of Glendairy was in the hands of key Government officials for more than a year, but no action had been taken on the recommendations to bring life to the 14-acre property that has been abandoned since the fire in 2005.
Sir Henry supported the measure before the Senate, and described the amendments to reduce the probation period for ex-convicts to apply to have their criminal records expunged as a “sensible” measure.
He cited work being done by prisoners of HMP Dodds in St Philip in areas such as wood work, baking, visual arts and agriculture.
However, he called for a twinning of rehabilitative efforts inside the prison with those after persons are released from the facility.
Such collaboration, he insisted, would greatly enhance the chances of ex-prisoners finding employment and reintegrating into society without becoming burdens or posing a threat to law-abiding citizens.
In this connection, he said Glendairy Prison at Station Hill, St Michael would play an important role in providing a more central location for former inmates to sell their work in cabinetry, visual arts, agriculture and culinary arts.
Describing the former male cell block built in the 1800s as one of the most “magnificent” buildings in the country, Sir Henry said the abandoned penal facility, like Alcatraz
in the United States and Robben Island Prison in South Africa, could become a world-famous prison museum.