UK prison recommendations will cost over $20M

A bevy of recommended changes to the Cayman Islands prisons system made following a United Kingdom inspection report could cost more than $20 million to implement, according to government estimates.  

“Very early estimates are expected to be an investment of over $20 million to rebuild a purpose-built facility that will be fully compliant with human rights and UK standards,” said Eric Bush, chief officer of the government’s Portfolio of Internal and External Affairs. “We are researching all options.”  

The portfolio has some evidence to provide a baseline comparison for costs of 
a new prison.  

“The prison which was newly built in Anguilla a few years ago is built to house 
110 inmates and cost over US$11 million,” Mr. Bush said. “We need to build a facility to house at least double that [number] and to include females and juveniles in separate and secured areas.”  

One of the major issues with Northward men’s prison right now, according to Mr. Bush and UK inspectors, is that it is not constructed to house more than mid-level risk inmates. Security at Northward was one of the top concerns of UK inspectors.  

Cayman handles what are known as Class A, Class B, Class C and Class D-type offenders. Class D offenders are the least serious, more minor or rehabilitated offenders; Class A is the highest-risk offender category. According to UK inspectors, Northward could only be coded as a Class C prison facility.  

“It needs better walls, better fencing, better [inmate] dorms, better segregation [of prisoners],” said Acting Deputy Prisons Director Aduke Natalie Joseph-Caesar, noting there are quite a few things the prison service must do in the meantime to counteract potential security threats within the system.  

However, the construction and/or complete renovation of Northward and also of Fairbanks women’s prison – which Mr. Bush eventually hopes to move back to the Northward compound – is not the only cost-related issue identified in the UK report.  

The report also noted that juvenile prisoners, some of whom currently being housed in the adult population and having contact with older male prisoners, are at critical risk of being recruited into local gangs or even being sexually assaulted by older prisoners.  

“Juveniles should be protected from abuse and bullying,” UK prison inspectors recommended. “As a minimum [they] should be specific to their needs and include education and a focus on rehabilitation.”  

Although the Cayman Islands constitutionally requires the total separation of adult and juvenile prisoners by November 2013, funding for the multimillion dollar juvenile remand facility being constructed in George Town was delayed in last year’s budget because of financial problems. Another $1.7 million was expected to be added to the current 2012/13 government budget to continue work on the detention centre in a wooded area south of Fern Circle and west of Fairview Road in George Town.  

For both juvenile prisoners and adults, the UK recommended that “meaningful activities” be made more available for prisoners in the areas of education, training and work study. Prisoners should be required to attend such activities; currently, they are only voluntary.  

The prison service has formed a 32-person team, including a psychologist, a qualified counsellor, two social workers and other trained staff to work with offenders while they are in prison, Mrs. Joseph-Caesar said.  

Healthcare for prisoners was also a matter addressed in the UK inspection report. Both adequate health assessments and adequate healthcare staff were problematic within the entire prison system, UK inspectors said.  

“There should be enough nurses, doctors and administration staff, with the right skills, to ensure that prisoners’ physical and mental health needs can be assessed and treated as appropriate,” the UK report recommended.  

All of those items amount to additional expenditure within the Cayman Islands prison system, Mr. Bush admits.  

“Certainly, in five to 10 years, there needs to be serious investment if the government and the people of the Cayman Islands want to see a truly productive prison system,” Mr. Bush said. “Some parts of the prisons are 10 years past their use date. We’re doing the best we can, but for there to be real improvement … there needs to be appropriate investment into the prison service.  

“To be fair to any government, we need to provide them with a strategic plan that they buy into,” he added. “That’s something we’ll hopefully have within the next six months.” 

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7 COMMENTS

  1. Based on the Government’s procurement skills on the schools where private contractor’s quoted 50 -70 M and the government final bill was 112M then the prison is going to cost around 40M i.e. double what is quoted.

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  2. I worry more about the cost of a new dump truck. George Town I heard only has one truck up and running. I see garbage in dumpsters for several days. What are we doing about the garbage system?

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  3. I suspect that this is one area of Government that will be outsourced, perhaps to another Country (primarily as a result of the FFR Amendment placed into the PMFL) and may actually result in savings to CIG.

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  4. How many of these prisoners are not Caymanians? And why do we have to keep those who are not Caymanians? Can they not be sent back to their own countries to look after them?

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  5. Old Hand – You got the most important one (CIG) – cause the buck stops with them, but

    FFR is Framework for Fiscal Responsibility; and
    PMFL is Public Management and Finance Law.

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  6. According to HMIP our Prison conditions are at best 2 star – more your Motel 6, rather than the Ritz Carlton which the majority of the law abiding populace believed…..To put matters ‘right’ the estimate has been put in the 20 million range.
    May I make a suggestion, which may well be acceptable to the majority of the law abiding citizens??
    Close all our prison facitlities – Male/Female/Juvenille(planned)including remand accomodation.
    Negotiate a per capita charge with the Jamaican Prison Service. I am led to believe that there prison related costs are far below those of Cayman and so I would have thought that shrewd negotiating on our part would result in a cost per prisoner well below that which it costs us here in Cayman.
    Of course there would be the Cayman Airways flight costs to send them (and to re-patriate them upon completion of their sentence) – HOWEVER – if we charge the air fare to one of the many Government credit cards – we will be able to send them there on Air Miles….
    I am absoultely sure that such an arrangement is not against any Cayman Laws – I do not think the Constitution demands that we encarcarate our criminals within the Cayman Islands.
    Think about it……prisoner visits would be virtually nil, due to the cost of flights to the friends and family…think how they will get on the felons case??!!
    Oh yes – there is another plus (sorry it is just to the law abiding tax paying citizen) – faced with the thought of spending your sentence in a Jamaican faciltiy would weight heavy on the minds of those who might be tempted to re-offend.
    I like it…..I like it…..I like it…..!!!

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