Editorial for 16 March: Prisons get hard time

Readers will have noticed quite a bit of coverage in recent
weeks from this newspaper on various situations within Her Majesty’s Prisons
here in the Cayman Island

Most of the news has not been good: Public uproar over strip
searches by prison guards, ganja found inside the prison administration office
(and everywhere else – along with illegal cell phones), news of financial
audits and wholesale reviews of the system and how it is (or isn’t) working.

We understand that a number of residents may be reading
these items and wondering what exactly has been going on at HMP Northward and
HMP Fairbanks.

We have been wondering just the same thing for a number of
years. In fact, one of the issues that led to former Police Commissioner Stuart
Kernohan’s call for assistance from United Kingdom authorities in 2007 – a call
that sparked the investigation that caused his eventual ouster from the police
service – was related to his concerns about communications coming from inside
Northward Prison.

So, yes, there are a number of serious matters within the
prison service that have needed addressing for a long time.

It is extremely encouraging, therefore, from our point of
view, to have an administration within the Portfolio of Internal and External
Affairs which is committed to improving prison operations and having a
professional criminal justice service.

Some of these matters readers have been seeing in the press
came to light partly because the administration has decided to speak openly
about them. The portfolio has not chosen, as have so many other government
entities over the years, to put their heads in the Seven Mile Beach sand and
ignore what was occurring.

Problems like this can only be solved by a comprehensive
effort to first, determine the problem; second, come up with a solution; and
third, implement something that works. It is possible that the press can be
looked at as a help in achieving these goals, rather than a hindrance.

We’re glad this government portfolio has taken such a view.
We hope others will follow suit.


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