Gov’t wants more eyes on convicts

Two measures listed as legislative priorities in the Cayman Islands upcoming budget would allow law enforcement agencies to keep a closer eye on convicted criminals outside of prison.

The first involves electronic monitoring as a punitive measure. Plans for that are expected to appear within the Alternative Sentencing Bill, which could be proposed before the end of the year.

The second is the creation of a Sex Offender Registry, which the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service would use to track those convicted of certain sex crimes upon their release from prison. Depending on what lawmakers decide, convicted offenders would be required to register their home address with police even after their sentences have been served.

Neither the Alternative Sentencing Bill nor the Sex Offender Register Bill has been laid on the table of the Legislative Assembly even as a discussion topic, also known as a white paper, as of yet.

Governor Stuart Jack addressed electronic monitoring during the annual Throne Speech on 27 April. According to the Governor, the 911 Emergency Communications Centre will assume the new responsibility.

911 Director Juliette Gooding said electronic ankle bracelets would be given to those sentenced under the monitoring programme. The devices allow authorities to track a convict’s location.

Ms Gooding said exact details of how her agency would handle the programme were still being worked out.

Assistant Deputy Chief Secretary Eric Bush said the electronic monitoring was being developed to allow judges some leeway if they don’t want to sentence someone to prison.

‘It will be an option for the judges and magistrates,’ Mr. Bush said.

‘We need to think of other, more efficient ways…bring in other sentencing methods to try and deter crime other than just sending people to prison.’

RCIPS Chief Inspector Angelique Howell, the former head of the department’s Family Support Unit, said proposals for a Sex Offender Registry were presented to government last year.

Inspector Howell said police keep a list of sex offenders who are convicted of such crimes and are aware when those individuals are released from prison. If they are paroled, she said the Probation and Aftercare Unit monitors them. There are also some support groups that operate through the prison’s sentence management programme.

However, Ms Howell said sex offenders are not required to register their address once they’ve completed their sentence.

‘The registry would allow us to check up on them every now and then, see what they’re up to, where they live, who they live with, what they’re doing,’ she said.

Inspector Howell also wants to see a measure inserted into the law which would allow businesses to apply to view the Sex Offender Registry when checking the background of potential employees.

If a registry is created, Ms Howell said police do not intend to make it available to the public, as similar records are in most areas of the US. However, she said any ultimate decisions on the sex offender bill would have to be made by the Legislative Assembly.