FOR NEARLY 10 years there have been plans to construct a high security prison in the Algarve in São Bartolomeu de Messines (Silves). However, the national government is still reluctant to give the project its seal of approval.
Silves Câmara and the Freguesia of São Bartolomeu de Messines want details of the project to be officially confirmed by the government before deciding whether or not the prison will aid local development.
In a move towards familiarising the council about the project, the Minister of Justice, Alberto Costa, made a special effort to inaugurate Silves Tribunal, a move supported by President of Silves Câmara, Isabel Soares.
Soares has no doubt that the prison will bring more work and people to the area, as well as being beneficial for the security of São Bartolomeu de Messines and Tunes. “When Silves prison was reopened, there were some who slandered the decision, but today, everyone realises that it was a positive move and brought increased security to the city,” states Soares.
The President of the Junta de Freguesia de São Bartolomeu de Messines, José Lourenço, has expressed his support for the prison and assures that the sentiment is shared by the representatives of all political parties. “The prison has been planned for a long time. We are speaking to hundreds of workers and families that live here, or could settle in Messines, as there will be a great number of people that will travel to Messines every day to visit the prisoners,” commented Lourenço.
When negotiations about the project began, the idea was to construct a large prison in Messines that would service the Algarve as well as the lower part of the Alentejo. At the moment, the government has only stated that research is taking place to decide what would be best for the region.
Earlier in the year, the Ministry of Justice announced tentative plans to shut down 22 of the countries 56 prisons within the next three years. In the Algarve, one prison is facing closure in Olhão with the prisoners being dispersed to prisons in Faro, Portimão and Silves. There are plans in place to close Portimão prison, but no official announcement has been made as of yet.