Premier of Nevis Mark Brantley slams NRP leader Dr Janice Hodge
Premier of Nevis Mark Brantley slams NRP leader Dr Janice Hodge

St Kitts and Nevis: Premier of Nevis and Leader of the Concerned Citizens’ Movement (CCM), Mark Brantley, has recently asked the answer to the question “Who will end up in the Harris Jail?”

Premier Nevis took social media and mentioned that it is clear to all that the construction of a new jail by Dr Timothy Harris has become one of the defining issues of this campaign. While he and his minions continue to parrot that the Cabinet approved a new prison facility, we have yet to hear why he and he alone took the decision to make the construction of that jail his number one priority, especially at a time like this when the country is still seeking to recover from the ravages of Covid-19.

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As per the leader of CCM, it is now a matter of public record that the Cabinet made a number of decisions on a number of significant projects. We approved the brand new state-of-the-art Basseterre High School. We approved the marijuana industry to diversify our economy. We approved Universal Health Insurance to assist our people in need of medical care. We approved drilling for water to assist hard-hit areas such as Cayon. We approved many other significant projects.

Furthermore, he questioned, “So the question that remains is why did Dr Harris and Dr Harris alone make the jail project his number one priority? Why did he start it in the dead of night without his usual fanfare and Cataflam? And most importantly, what Leader would prioritize jail over schools and hospitals and health insurance and water for the people of Cayon? And at what cost?”

He added that now it is being said that the jail will not cost taxpayers anything. That is abject nonsense. To build the jail, Chinese investors have been given 5,500 passports to be sold at US$175,000 each. That’s US$962.5 million or EC$2.406 Billion. The passports to be sold belong to whom? The citizens and taxpayers of St Kitts and Nevis. It is St Kitts and Nevis passport that will fund this jail, and therefore in every sense, it is being funded by ourselves.

He also shared instructive facts, which read:

1. The same jail was in the National Budget of 2021 at the cost of EC$88 million. I tender into evidence below as Exhibit 1, the extract from Dr Harris’ own budget document for 2021. So how, then, does an estimated cost of EC$88 million balloon 27 times to EC$2.4 BILLION? Lord de maths too hard!!

2. At EC$2.4 BILLION from the Citizenship by Investment Programme, this jail is over six times more than the EC$400 million the entire island of Nevis received in 7 years. And remember that Dr Harris says that Nevisians are greedy and should hush and be content.

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3. To accommodate 300 prisoners, this Harris jail will average EC$8.02 million per prisoner to build.

4. This Harris jail will be the most expensive piece of infrastructure ever built in the history of St Kitts Nevis.

5. Based on the cost of building prisons, even high-security prisons in the USA, this Harris jail is the most expensive jail in the world. I tender into evidence as Exhibit 2 an extract showing the cost of much larger high-security prisons in the USA. None cost more than EC$440 million. So the Harris jail for 300 people costs roughly six times more than the most expensive US jail for 1,088 people.

He concluded, “I would wish our people to reflect soberly on who Dr Harris intends to fill this jail with. In some countries, there is something called the industrial prison complex, where jails have become big businesses. But to make the model work, there must be a constant supply of prisoners to fill them. These are usually young black, brown and poor people. Is Dr Harris working with Chinese investors to create an industrial jail complex in St Kitts Nevis? And is it you and me and our children who he intends to fill his jail with?

I urge our people to pay attention and ask hard questions. Why is this Harris jail really being built now, and who will this EC$2.4 Billion benefit most?”