Queens Counsel Valerie-Neita Roberston said that while she is not in support of the temporary release of prisoners who are more susceptible to catch COVID-19, she is suggesting that the relevant authorities place them in isolation to prevent them from being contaminated.
Robertson, one of the senior attorneys for Adidja ‘Vybz Kartel’ Palmer, says she is not only extremely concerned about him, but is worried about other inmates who may have underlying health issues.
“I am very concerned about him and other inmates who have medical conditions and I don’t believe the authorities are dealing with it appropriately because we have too many instances where there are these types of outbreaks and they don’t do what they need to do. I would think they could even place them on a hospital ward and isolate them and take extra precautions,” she said.
Kartel is currently serving a life sentence for the murder of Clive ‘Lizard’ Williams. Since his incarceration, he has made a few trips to the hospital for treatment.
Recently Stand Up for Jamaica, headed by Carla Gullatta, along with a number of human rights organisations and individuals, have been calling on the Government to mitigate the spread of the virus.
Among other things, they recommended the temporary release of at-risk inmates, including those who are 60 and older, those with weakened immune systems, and persons with chronic illnesses including heart disease and diabetes.
Neita-Robertson emphasised that tighter measures may be put in place to prevent the virus from reaching the prisons, considering that warders have to constantly enter and exit the cells in order to carry out their duties.
“I am assuming visits have been stopped now but food is still coming in, and the virus can live on plastic for hours and they can’t spray the food. So I really don’t know what they are going to do but something needs to be done,” she said.
Jamaica now has 26 confirmed cases of COVID-19. Prime Minister Andrew Holness said the country is now rapidly approaching community spread phase, where an escalation in the number of cases is expected.
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