Today’s Editorial for February 11: Home-grown violent crime

Last Thursday, after the Cayman
National Bank robbery in Savannah, rumours spread quickly that the robbers had
Jamaican accents.

It is not unusual that after a
high-profile crime, the rumour mill here wants to put a non-Caymanian face on
the perpetrator. Most often, it’s the Jamaicans that get the blame.  Most often, the blame is wrong.

Although nobody has been convicted
of last week’s bank robbery, it should be noted that police arrested two
Caymanian men for the crime the following day.

A clear indication of who is
committing crimes in Cayman is gleaned from statistics obtained through a
Freedom of Information request made by this newspaper.

As of 31 December, 2009, all but
one of the prisoners at the Fairbanks women’s prison and the Eagle House prison
for young offenders was Caymanian.

A little more than 80 per cent of
male prisoners at Northward Prison are Caymanian.

Although it is true that some
foreigners are deported rather than sent to prison, especially for certain
kinds of offences, serious crimes still lead to jail sentences for
everyone.  Here, the statistics we have
obtained speak volumes.  Of the men at
Northward for violent crimes, 89 per cent of them are Caymanian.  That figure is significantly disproportionate
to the demographics of the Cayman Islands, given that roughly half of the population
is expatiates.

The point here isn’t to say
Caymanians are bad people.  Indeed, there
were only 195 people incarcerated in all of the prisons combined.  Cayman’s per capita rate of prisoner pales in
comparison to that of the United States and Russia.  But it does put Cayman in the same
neighbourhood as Trinidad & Tobago, Panama and Barbados.  And, believe it or not, the per capita rate
of prisoners here is about double what it is Jamaica.

It is time Cayman took ownership of
its crime problem, especially violent crimes. 
The first step in solving any problem is to admit the problem, and that
cannot happen as long as everyone is too busy blaming others.

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