Prisoners released early

Overcrowding at Northward an issue

Eleven men have been released early
from Northward Prison because of overcrowding.

The certified national
accommodation for Northward is 165, while the daily average prisoner population
for 2009 was 198.

Five of the inmates had been
sentenced for drug offences, while two of served time for theft and burglary.
Two of the men were sentenced for traffic offences, one for marine and one for
immigration offences.

Six of the men were released with
electronic monitoring devices.

Prison officials are working with
Government to ensure space is available for offenders of more serious crimes.

While overcrowding continues to be
a problem at the prison, there are no plans to privatise the service.

“Given the size of our population
in Cayman, privatizing the prison system may not be effective, as countries who
favour this model usually have thousands of prisoners and though our total may
be substantial to us, it isn’t when all things are considered,” said Acting
Deputy Governor Franz Manderson.

“There is also the issue of whether
there would be as much incentive to focus on rehabilitation in a private
institution. This is where much of the cost for running Northward comes from in
addition to staff and infra-structural security,” explained Mr. Manderson.

He said the Cayman Islands
Government is looking at the possibility of sending prisoners to a regional
facility for overseas territories’ most hardened criminals and had already
received offers from the United States for inmates to be privately incarcerated
in prisons there. He said the Legal Department is researching the matter.

An alternative sentencing law,
which would give the courts a number of options in terms of sentencing, has been
signed and is waiting for assent from Governor Duncan Taylor.    

The Caymanian Compass received
information about the early releases through a Freedom of Information request.

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Prisoners at Northward prison.
Photo: Submitted