Gov’t looks at ‘modular’ lock ups

Horrendous police jail forces issue

The Cayman Islands government has sent out bids for “modular custody facilities” which are intended to replace the police jails at the George Town and West Bay police stations.  

The government Portfolio of Internal and External Affairs said last year that replacing the two condemned lock up facilities would cost somewhere between $750,000 to $1 million and bid documents state the modular or prefabricated buildings, as they are called, are the way to go.  

The modular buildings will serve as short-term holding facilities, said Wesley Howell, the portfolio’s deputy chief officer. They would not be used as prisons for convicted offenders.  

Mr. Howell said the units were “not trailers” and would not be built of wood.  

“A modular custody facility is a prefabricated secure facility to house persons in custody,” Mr. Howell said. “The structures are portable, but will be installed to a fixed solid concrete pad to meet hurricane wind loads.  

“The units are expected to have a life span of 20+ years, so the facility will be semipermanent. That said, if the operational requirements change, then the units can be relocated to another site at minimal expense,” he added.  

Government bid documents indicate that the contract for the modular lock up is due to be awarded by May and the project completed by the end of this year. Bids are due by 6 March.  

The bids further state that any contractor hired for the job is responsible not only for construction and site works, but for “mitigation” against social and environmental impacts from the construction.  

The need for another facility in which to house individuals arrested by the police was made emphatically clear following a report from the United Kingdom’s prisons inspection service released last week, although both portfolio officials and police have lobbied for quite some time to improve local holding cells.  

The report revealed, among other things; a “protected witness” who was confined in dark quarters for a month and didn’t know what time of day it was; no records kept whatsoever regarding incidents within the police jails; no records indicating prisoners understood their rights while in lock up; and families of the prisoners being the only ones to bring them bedding and toiletries.  

Cayman Islands government representatives confirmed in October that it would take at least another year to make temporary holding cells operated by the police in George Town and in West Bay human rights compliant. The move means the construction of the modular jail facilities, likely somewhere in George Town.  

Section 6 (1) of the Bill of Rights, which took effect on 6 November, 2012 reads: “All persons deprived of their liberty have the right to be treated with humanity and with respect for the inherent dignity of the human person.”  

Sections 6(2) and 6(3) of the bill refer to the separation of juvenile prisoners from adults and of unconvicted prisoners from convicted ones. Those two sections do not take effect until 6 November, 2013.  

The UK prisons inspection report gave the police, prisons and court lock ups failing grades in all major areas. Her Majesty’s Prisons Inspectorate typically reviews four general areas: safety, re-offending rates, legal responsibilities and how offenders do upon re-entry into the community. 

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