The U.K. plans to allocate £25 million ($37.9 million) of its foreign aid budget to help build a prison in Jamaica where Jamaican prisoners prosecuted in the U.K. will spend their sentences, the Prime Minister’s office announced Tuesday. The British government will pay for about 40% of the building.
The prison is the result of nearly a decade of negotiations between the two countries over prison transfers. Over 600 Jamaican nationals imprisoned in the U.K. currently cannot be deported. The U.K. government fears that prisoners transferred back to Jamaica could challenge their imprisonment under human rights law because of the poor prison conditions in their native country. When the new prison opens in 2020, those sentenced to four years or more with at least 18 months left in their stay will be sent there.
The U.K. has struck similar compulsory transfer agreements with Albania, Nigeria, Somaliland, Rwanda and Libya in the past. Officials working under Prime Minister David Cameron say the new deal with Jamaica will save U.K. taxpayers £10 million per year. The prison will be big enough to fit 1,500 inmates.
“It is absolutely right that foreign criminals who break our laws are properly punished but this shouldn’t be at the expense of the hardworking British taxpayer,” Primer Minister Cameron said in a statement. “And it will help Jamaica, by helping to provide a new prison – strengthening their criminal justice system.”
More than 600 Jamaican citizens were in jails in England and Wales as of this past June, with 69% of those criminals service sentences in drug or violence-related charges.