Inmate price tag around $53,000

It costs the country about $53,000 a year to hold each prison inmate, the Legislative Assembly was told.

Chief Secretary George McCarthy gave the figure – which he said was arrived at by dividing the prison’s $10.5 million budget by an average jail population of 200 – as he answered questions in the House on Thursday.

Mr. McCarthy said a close look had been taken at Northward Prison and its programmes for rehabilitation.

‘A number of changes to improve various aspects of the Prison Service are under consideration, and some of these will be announced in the near future,’ said Mr. McCarthy.

He said reports had not indicated significant problems but had highlighted areas that should be addressed.

Prison catered for all adult males irrespective of the nature of the offence, said Mr. McCarthy.

This was recognised as not the ideal arrangement that should be in place and under consideration was the need to have a maximum secured facility, he said.

This was being pursued in the medium to long term because it was an urgent requirement, he added.

Mr. McCarthy said there were presently 10 parolees and he further explained the different ways of releasing prisoners.

‘Some are released because they have served two-thirds of their sentence and by law must be released,’ said Mr. McCarthy.

‘Some prisoners are sentenced to 18 months or less and can be released afters serving 50 per cent of their sentence at the discretion of the Prison Director,’ he told the House.

‘While they are released, they are not actually released ‘on parole’ -that is under a parole licence which can be revoked if the licence is breached, in which case the parolee is returned to prison,’ he explained.