Northward tackling drug issues

The prison service is doing all it can to stem the flow of drugs into jail.

Prison Director Dwight Scott said staff is also trying to put drug users back on the right track before releasing them.

‘A very high percentage of individuals that come into the prison, come in as a result of a drug addiction or drug related problems,’ said Mr. Scott.

‘With 25 per cent of the population that are actually coming in for drug offences and say another 25 per cent already in the prison for issues such as burglaries and all of these things, in truth and in fact when you sometimes correlate it, it is a spin off as a result of drugs,’ he said.

For drug offenders it is like a revolving door. Unless they get out of the drug habit they are almost certain to find themselves back in jail.

Mr. Scott said he takes comfort in seeing individuals who are fighting desperately to stay clean and those who try to turn around and kick the habit.

Mr. Scott said it saddens him to see young people getting involved in the vicious cycle of drugs.

‘Most of the individuals who come into the prison with a drug habit are skilled individuals, young Caymanians with talent and once they have become involved in drugs they realise it has turned them out to be somebody totally different,’ he said.

‘The situation also poses a problem in terms of accommodation and is very challenging for us,’ he said.

He said there are problems of people going to prison late at night to throw packages over the prison walls.

He encouraged people not to take drugs to the prison as it could only cause further damage.

‘We are doing everything in our power to arrest it. Not just from a security aspect, but in terms of trying of work with prisoners to let them understand drugs are a dead end road,’ he said

‘We are very proactive from a security point of view. We operate at all levels. We have our canine unit and our officers who are doing an extremely good job of patrolling our borders to keep drugs from coming into the prison.

‘There are consequences in prison if people are caught using or are tested for drugs,’ he said.

‘We approach it from two angles both from a punitive and rehabilitation point of view, because our ultimate aim is for that individual to realise the damaging effects of drugs and to look at their problems.

‘We offer guidance and counselling. We have various organisations such as the NDC, substance abuse counselling, church groups and volunteers that come into the prison to offer these services.

‘But suffice it to say, with the number of people coming in with a drug addition there is always more room to continue to develop these services,’ he said.

Mr. Scott said there are 181 prisoners housed at Northward Prison and it could go up at anytime. The normal capacity is 165 with 196 uniform officers.

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