Editorial for 03 January: Prisons take issues on board

Consultants come and go from the Cayman Islands on a
rotating basis at government’s request.

When they go, many leave behind their recommendations
contained in reports that – more often than not – end up gathering dust on a
forgotten shelf is some government office. No thought is given to the issue
until it comes up again and the latest sitting government hires its own
consultants for yet another potentially dust gathering report.

That’s why it is so refreshing to see that those who have
charge over Cayman’s prison system are paying heed to a United Kingdom prisons
inspectorate report and taking action.

That report basically gave the prisons in the Cayman Islands
a failing grade in the areas that were investigated.

We should know what is contained in the comprehensive review
when it is released next month.

But those who are running the prisons system already have a
good idea of what has to be addressed, including a method of better

To that end, an Inmates Council is being formed. It will be
comprised of councillors that are Class D prisoners – the lowest risk inmates.
While they won’t have any direct powers over how the prisons are run, council
members will be able to give inmates a voice.

While many inmates spend a great amount of time whinging
about their status in life, there are legitimate concerns that need to be aired
and addressed, and in a proper forum.

We have seen in the past what happens when prisoners make
complaints directly to prison officers. Those making the complaints are at the
mercy of officers who would retaliate.

Complaints in any system are normal and there should be
avenues for them to be properly handled. Most businesses have human resource
personnel who deal with complaints and help mediate solutions.

The council will also teach those on it valuable
interpersonal skills of how to handle and manage conflict resolution. And it
will help them set goals.

There are many issues the prisons system needs to address.
Setting up the council is a good first step.