During the last few months, government auditors have been conducting a review of finances within the Cayman Islands prison system, the Caymanian Compass has learned.
A draft of the review has now been finished and submitted to the Portfolio of Internal and External Affairs, according to portfolio deputy chief officer Kathryn Dinspel-Powell.
Mrs. Dinspel-Powell said the financial audit is wide-ranging, looking into issues regarding prison spending including purchases of good and supplies.
“Procurement is certainly one aspect … and obviously that’s something that’s been a hot topic in government lately,” she said. “They would look at contracts, they would look at how jobs were awarded.”
Mrs. Dinspel-Powell and prisons director Dwight Scott, who were interviewed about the audit by the Compass on Wednesday, both declined to speak about specifics of the findings. They said prison management would make its response to the findings contained in the draft report and auditors would respond prior to its release.
However, the Caymanian Compass understands auditors are looking to review contract amounts, even relatively small expenditures, such as what was paid for bread and baked goods within the prison system during the past five years.
An open records request filed on the bread contracts shows a significant difference in what the prison system spent between 2009 and 2010 on baked goods, going from roughly $34,000 per year before 2009 to about $20,000 per year after that. Bread contracts to one service provider doubled in value during a five-year period, while another contractor had their deal with the prisons dropped.
There may be nothing untoward revealed by the audit, and Mr. Scott said internal audits within government entities are done on a regular basis. “It’s nothing strange,” said Mr. Scott, referring to the review.
Portfolio officials, involved in a number of reviews of the Cayman Islands prison system, said it was important to first establish if there were any problems within the system and then come up with recommendations on how to repair those issues.
“It’s just not enough for us to say to a head of department ‘you need to fix this’,” Mrs. Dinspel-Powell said. “If there are things that need to be addressed … then that’s our role. We didn’t want to make assumptions or do our own evaluation.”
As part of a prison service reorganisation, Mrs. Dinspel-Powell was made the 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 the prisons at Northward and Fairbanks.
A team of two inspectors have been in Grand Cayman to do some preliminary assessments and a full inspection is scheduled to take place early in the 2012/13 budget year, which begins in July.
The UK prisons inspectorate is an independent body that 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 Duncan Taylor said earlier this month.
Changes coming due to the implementation of the 2009 Constitution Order’s Bill of Rights are one reason the Cayman Islands should take all precautions in making sure its prisons and other parts of the law enforcement services; police, immigration and customs, are running as efficiently as possible, Mrs. Dinspel-Powell said.
“From a human rights standpoint, that’s probably where we’re going to take most of our hits and that’s where the bulk of the budget goes to,” she said.