Prisoners elect inmate council

Her Majesty’s Cayman Islands Prison Service now has its first inmate council members. 

Behind prison walls Friday, Acting Deputy Director of Prison Services Aduke Joseph-Caesar declared the elections open in the presence of prison officials, Elections Office officials and inmates. 

“The process is very important because we want to establish in the organisation the responsible inmate’s ethos,” Mrs. Joseph-Caesar said, adding that she wanted inmates to be responsible for themselves in a positive way and give them an opportunity to handle business in a legal fashion. 

Eleven inmates from Northward Prison, along with one female inmate from Fairbanks, were elected as leaders in the inmate council by two witness each and papers signed by Cayman Islands Supervisor of Elections Kearney Gomez and Orrett Connor, government’s Cabinet secretary. 

Nominees chosen were: McAndy Thomas and John Miller for Wing A, Thomas Watson and Murphy Powell for Wing B, Travis Ebanks and Robert Schultz for Wing C, Sven Connor and Trevino Bodden for Wing D, Osman Bonilla and Christopher Samuels for Wing F; Raziel Jeffers for the High Risk Unit and Amil Stewart from Fairbanks prison. 

“It will help us re-integrate ourselves back into society as productive citizens. I think this is the best thing the government could have ever done for us,” said council nominee Sven Connor. 

“I feel more than grateful to be nominated and I feel it will make a difference in my life and the life of other inmates. When I get out I am going to do my best to not just represent myself but the whole prison in way that is expected,” said inmate council member Thomas Watson. 

Spearheading the inmate elections, prison officer James Walrond said he was proud of the way things went with forming the inmate counsel. “This allows inmates to have that missing voice and the communication between inmates and management having that free flow,” Mr. Walrond said.  

He said that the model was taken from the Elections Commission with the help of election officials. “I was guided by Mr. Kearney Gomez, the inmates were sensitised and given the opportunity to campaign. When that was finished, inmates did their own selections of nominees. I was proud of the way things went with forming the inmate council,” he said.  

Kathryn Dinspel-Powell of the government’s Portfolio of Internal and External Affairs said the event marks a milestone in the journey to bring correctional services into the 21st century. 

She thanked the Elections Office for assisting and encouraging inmates to develop skills so when they returned to society they could be depended upon to act responsibly. 

Mrs. Dinspel-Powell said inmate counsels in many other jurisdictions have proven to be very successful by opening up the channel to give inmates a voice. 

Charles Jennings, co-chairman of Fresh Start Committee, spoke on life outside prison. He said the object of the Fresh Start Committee was to identify employment for inmates and former inmates. He said it would be a struggle, but they needed to identify the right candidates within the prison to be educated in the ways of the workplace and then speak to employers throughout the Cayman Islands.