Prison reorganisation, drug testing announced

A reorganisation of Her Majesty’s prisons service in the Cayman Islands has been announced, along with drug testing conducted on every employee in the service.

According to an announcement released Friday afternoon by the Portfolio of Internal and External Affairs, there have been a number of concerns raised by the public and the media about the Cayman Islands Prison Service – “for good reason”, officials said.

“Over the last few years, the service has experienced a number of incidents where drugs and other contraband have been found within the secure confines of the prisons,” according to a government release. “In addition, there has been a reduction in rehabilitative services.”

As a result of packages, thought to be ganja, being found
within the administrative offices and the secure perimeter fences of
Northward Prison, Eric Bush asked the Acting Director of Prisons, Mr.
Daniel Greaves to have all prison management, officers and
administrative staff submit to a drug screening test. Arrangements were
made on the same day and staff were informed of the testing which was
carried out over a 4-day period. The Chief Officer, Director and Deputy
Director of Prisons, all provided specimens, Mr. Bush said. 

“Whilst a
few officers remain to provide a specimen due to overseas travel or
approved extended sick leave  prior to the testing being initiated, I am
happy to report that the 135 results received to date have all been
negative”, said Mr. Bush.

Mr. Bush said the staff of the Department of
Community Rehabilitation who work in both the female and male prisons on
a regular basis, also submitted to testing willingly together with
their Director, and results were negative for all. The testing was
conducted by the Forensic Department at the Health Services Authority.  

Mr. Bush also announced the reorganisation of the portfolio’s management structure to ensure that “sufficient attention and expertise is focused on the prison service” and that the synergies between departments who share in the responsibility for the provision of correctional and rehabilitative services are maximized.

Kathryn Dinspel-Powell’s, the deputy chief officer of the portfolio, will now become deputy chief officer for corrections and rehabilitation.  

Mrs. Dinspel-Powell will facilitate a third-party inspection of the prison system and other places of incarceration by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons from the United Kingdom.  Governor Duncan Taylor, at the request of the Portfolio, invited the UK prisons inspectorate to conduct a full inspection of Northward and Fairbanks Prisons. 

A team of two inspectors have been on island this week to do some preliminary assessments and a full inspection is scheduled to take place early in the 2012/13 budget year.

HMIP is an independent inspectorate which reports on the conditions for and treatment of, those in prisons, young offender institutions and immigration detention facilities.

“A visit by HMIP is timely, given the two recent reports on the quality of life and rehabilitation of local inmates by the University of Cambridge and the Institute of Public Administration of Canada respectively, and given that it has been some 11 years since the last inspection,” Governor Taylor said.