Prison probes escape

A second prison officer has been suspended in connection with the escape of James Orville Ebanks, a suspected boat thief, from Her Majesty’s Prison Northward last week. .

Prison officials said Wednesday that a full internal investigation into the facts surrounding the escape is proceeding as quickly as possible. Ebanks was found by a prison search team and returned to lock up on Monday night, more than three days after he vanished Friday morning.

It’s believed Ebanks used a tool to cut through the bars of his cell and the prison fence to escape the facility.

The investigation seeks to determine what the exact circumstances of the escape were, what disciplinary actions may be warranted as a result, and what new security measures may be required to prevent another escape. .

The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service is also conducting a separate investigation into Ebanks’ escape, including any offences he might have committed up to and including the time of his recapture. Police will also seek to determine if he was aided during and after his escape.

The last escape to occur at Northward was in September 2004 when two prisoners left the prison shortly after Hurricane Ivan.

Commissioner of Corrections and Rehabilitation William Rattray has repeatedly refused to return calls for comment following Friday’s escape.

He has previously said that escapes from Her Majesty’s Cayman Islands Prison Service are rare, despite the fact that the system is generally considered to be well overcrowded.

According to the latest figures provided by the prison service, the total male prison population at Northward and Eagle House was 212. Late last year, Northward was forced to send some adult prisoners over to Eagle House, the juvenile detention facility, to relieve overcrowding levels of some 50 per cent above prison capacity.

Dr. Rattray has previously said longer term plans to build new facilities for prisoners, and enact an alternative sentencing programme that involves electronic monitoring of inmates are in the works.

He also noted that escapes and violence within the Cayman Islands prison system rated among the lowest in a recent comparison to prisons in Europe, Canada, and New Zealand.

When compared to prisons in Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Holland, New Zealand, Norway, Scotland and Sweden, the Cayman Islands had the highest rates of imprisonment and overcrowding. The report also noted that Cayman Islands prisoners spent the most time outside their cells when compared to the other jurisdictions.

Cayman also had the lowest number of suicides in its prison system, according to the report.