By Edwin Fidelis – EM TV News, Kokopo
The Kerevat Prison in East New Britain holds both low and high-risk criminals and juveniles that come from West New Britain, Manus, New Ireland and Buka.
Within the prison compound, a staff house was converted to a female prison, as the jail doesn’t have a cellblock to hold female inmates.
Inside the building, Iris Yohui, the female staffer on duty showed me the cells that can cater to only one female inmate.
But because of the increase, two female inmates have been forced to use the one cell.
“There are only seven rooms in the female prison. But there are more than seven inmates. They either double up on the same bed or sleep on the floor,” Yohui said.
The kitchen has been relocated to the outside of the building and the shower block has seen better days.
“The number of female detainees has increased. In 2015, the highest number of inmates we had was 18,” the female prison officer said.
The jail commander, Simon Sobaim, tells me it is the same story in the male prison compound.
“I have 501 prisoners…the holding capacity in this jail is supposed to be 300 prisoners, but we exceeded that,” Sobaim said
As Kerevat continues to cater to the other four provinces; it is concerned about the state of its rundown infrastructure.
Many may not see the need to upgrade the jail, but for those who deal directly with prisoners, it is a serious concern.
Kerevat hasn’t recorded any instances of a mass breakout as yet, but prison staff say that doesn’t make it any safer.
“The fences are very old…they were built during the colonial days and haven’t been repaired ever since,” Sobaim said.
Here you can see the severity of the problem that the PNG Correctional Service faces all over the country.
Numerous commitments made by the government to improve jail facilities all over the country have achieved poor results, thus far.