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Saturday 23 March 2019
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New prison rules permit reading material

PRISONERS will have a right to reading material under proposed new rules meant to regulate prisons.

The Prison Rules Policy Document, which has been published by the Ministry of Justice, also proposes previously announced plans to allow private family visits (inclusive of so-called “conjugal visits”) which will not be limited to spouses, but will also be open to children, siblings and even other family members.

The documents also detail previously announced measures such as: compulsory testing for HIV, drugs among inmates, as well as the provision of facilities to allow for the care of babies in facilities housing female inmates.

On the provision of reading material, the rules note that, “prisoners must be allowed access to available reading material of his choice, and such material must not constitute a security risk, and ought to be conducive to the prisoner’s rehabilitation.”

“All such books should be approved by the Prison Commissioner, or anyone delegated by him. Such reading material may be drawn from a library in the prison, or may be sent to the prisoner from outside the correctional centre provided the necessary security checks are done.”

Additionally, prison windows must be large enough to allow a prisoner to read.

“In all places where prisoners are required to live, or work, the windows shall be large enough to enable the prisoners to read, or work by natural light, and shall be so constructed that they can allow the entrance of fresh air, whether or not there is artificial ventilation; artificial light shall be provided sufficient for the prisoners to read or work without injury to eyesight,” the document outlines.

Of the much discussed “conjugal visits” planned under the policy, the document notes that spouses will not be the only persons allowed.

“These type of visits will allow an offender access to not only his/her spouse (common-law included) but to children as well,” the policy notes. “Parameters shall be established to determine the length of each private family visit. Special secure facilities on the prison compound or adjacent to it may have to be constructed to facilitate such visits. During the visit, the prison staff must maintain regular contact with both the prisoner and his visitors, to guarantee their safety and monitor their presence. These checks are scheduled in advance to avoid disturbing the family’s intimacy.”

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