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US company wins contract to build Haiti prison

September 13, 2014

CROIX-DES-BOUQUETS, Haiti (AP) — A construction company based in Maryland has received a U.S. government contract to build a prison in northern Haiti.

DFS Construction LLC of Annapolis, Maryland, has been awarded the $5.6 million contract by the State Department to build the prison in Fort Liberte. The State Department said Friday that construction is expected to begin in October and finish around April 2016.

The two-story prison is designed to hold about 300 inmates in a complex that includes an administration building and a one-story infirmary.

Haitian prisons have long been plagued by overcrowding, with prisoners often waiting years in pre-trial detention for their cases to be adjudicated. In August, 329 prisoners escaped from an overcrowded prison in Croix-des-Bouquets, at the northern edge of the capital, in a mass breakout that officials said appeared to have been organized with the help of corrupt guards. Authorities have managed to recapture about 75.

Justice Minister Jean Renel Sanon recently told The Associated Press that the government plans to demolish the National Penitentiary in downtown Port-au-Prince, which was built to hold up to 1,000 inmates but now houses more than 4,300.

More than 4,200 prisoners escaped the National Penitentiary following the devastating January 2010 earthquake and most were never recaptured.