Stricter prison rules ahead

A proposal to “blanket” certain telecommunications
facilities within Northward prison is being bandied about among Cayman Islands leaders.

Elected lawmakers also indicated that visitation
rights for serious criminals might soon be restricted at the prison.

Those proposals were among the anti-crime ideas
discussed during a public meeting held Saturday at John
Cumber Primary
School hall in West

Premier McKeeva Bush said Cabinet members agreed
there was a need assert greater control at the lock up.

“There has to be a move for complete blanketing of
Northward Prison,” Mr. Bush said. “When we get (prisoners) locked up, they got
girlfriends that will smuggle things into Northward. What are these people
thinking of?”

The recent trial of Northward inmate Randy Martin
for the murder of Sabrina Schirn raised several security concerns at the Island’s
only adult male prison. Those included claims that inmates were being supplied
cell phones and illegal drugs.

Education Minister Rolston Anglin said the
communications blanketing proposal is not a done deal and lawmakers will have
to work within human rights constraints.

“(It’s) not as simple as you think,” Mr. Anglin

In addition, Mr. Anglin said plans were in motion to
prevent “intimate visits” from family members of prisoners with the most
serious convictions.

“If you have committed a serious crime, your visits
will be limited behind thick glass windows with a single two-way telephone,”
Mr. Anglin said. “No personal contact whatsoever.”

Mr. Bush said he would also approach Cayman’s
attorney general about creating a moratorium on parole for convicted criminals
who are given mandatory minimum sentences for guns, drugs, or property-related

The proposals were greeted with rousing applause
from the 300 or so people who turned out for the meeting.

However, some in the crowd questioned whether
certain ‘tough on crime’ proposals would be the best thing in the end for Cayman.

“What will we do with these young men when they get
out of Northward?” Henry Morgan asked. “When they can’t get a job, where will
they go?”

Mr. Bush said he understood the concerns expressed
by Mr. Morgan and others. But he said Caymanians needed to take responsibility
for what is happening in the country.

“For far too long we’ve heard ‘not my child’,” Mr.
Bush said. “I want to make an appeal that mothers and girlfriends and those
around the gangsters…save a life, and give information.”

Many of those at the meeting expressed frustration
at the recent spate of shootings and killings in the district. One man mentioned
that some West Bay restaurants had reported a number of
cancelled weekend reservations because of the recent crimes.

“Imagine, you get on a cruise ship and they say
‘don’t go to West
Bay’,” said Woody
DaCosta. “What are we going to do?”

Mr. DaCosta suggested that the government remove
current West Bay police station commander Angelique Howell
from her post.

Premier Bush said that would be a mistake.

“Let us not be so quick to blame,” he said. “I have
found that young lady to be very assertive…and trying to do the right things.”

“If there was evidence that the commander was at
fault…I would have to be pushing for her dismissal. But it is not her fault.”

As far as general policing, Mr. Bush told the audience
that he does not necessarily agree with all police policies, but he also
believes Police Commissioner David Baines is working hard.

He said Mr. Baines did not agree with earlier
proposals to bring in a special police team or “task force” from outside the
country to help crack down on crime.

However, Mr. Bush said the commissioner has agreed
to pursue a policy of more aggressive policing.

“He understands we
won’t put up with (the crimes),” Mr. Bush said.