Prison boss: $10M juvenile centre not needed

The concrete slab poured for the proposed Cayman Islands Juvenile Justice Centre looks a bit lonely sitting in a wooded area off Fairbanks Road in George Town. However, the project – on which $1.3 million was spent, according to the government’s 2011/12 budget – is not likely to be completed any time soon due to a complete lack of funding.  

Moreover, Cayman’s new prisons director Neil Lavis said last week that he did not believe a separate juvenile prisoner rehabilitation facility was essential to meet human rights requirements in the Cayman Islands Constitution scheduled to come into effect in November. Those include the mandated separation of juvenile prisoners from adults, as well as the separation of remand prisoners from those who have been convicted of crimes.  

“Ideally, they need to be in a separate location, but … I can ensure they’re kept separate from the general population,” Mr. Lavis said. “If I can make an area here where I have a separate entrance, they’re exercised separately and kept separately, that will satisfy [human rights requirements].”  

With 193 male and female prisoners in Her Majesty’s Prisons, Northward and Fairbanks last week, Mr. Lavis pointed out he did not have one juvenile prisoner in the complexes.  

“With such small numbers, it would be wrong of me to build a nice, glowing 12-bed unit, which would sit there with nobody in it or one or two people in it,” he said. “Is that the best use of public money?”  

Mr. Lavis said last week that he knew nothing of the project for the juvenile rehabilitation centre in the Fairbanks area and that he 
had not been briefed on it. 

Ministry of Home Affairs Chief Officer Eric Bush, who has oversight responsibility for the prisons system, said last week that there was no money available in the current government budget for the project. Mr. Bush was uncertain if the plans for the centre will ever be continued and stressed that the new ministry proposed to handle juvenile prisoners within available space on the Northward compound.  

Former Community Affairs Minister Dwayne Seymour announced in February that, since it appeared the rehab centre project would cost more than $10 million, it would require UK permission to proceed. Governor Duncan Taylor also asked that the cost estimate for the project be justified, Mr. Seymour said.  

“All angles are being evaluated. If necessary, changes need to be made to ensure that there is value for money and that the expense of this project can be toned down,” he said during a February press briefing.  

Mr. Seymour admitted that the project might have to be scrapped. He said Governor Taylor had particular concern about the recurring costs of the new centre.  

Former Community Affairs Minister Mike Adam, who held the post prior to Mr. Seymour, was forced to remove all funding from the budget for the centre during the government’s 2012/13 budget year because of financial constraints. Government’s initial budget for the project during the 2011/12 fiscal year began at $3 million, but had about $1.7 million reduced from it to assist government in paying for other projects.  

In addition to the construction and design costs for the centre, which now consists of a foundation with rebar pipes sticking out of it exposed to the weather, there were some travel costs associated with the centre. Mr. Adam went to Missouri in November 2010 to study that state’s youth rehabilitation project with several other government representatives at a cost of $11,583. The Missouri programme was used as the foundation for the programme as envisioned by Mr. Adam’s ministry.  

Planning permission for the new 21,000-square-foot remand centre was granted in August 2011, which at the time had an estimated construction cost of $8 million. The project broke ground in March 2012. 

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The site of the once-planned juvenile rehabilitation centre in George Town. – Photo: Jewel Levy
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2 COMMENTS

  1. We seem to have the rights to that plan. We have started hospitals, schools and detention centers but cant seem to finish the job. We have wasted more money on not finishing than doing. What a bright lot we are.

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  2. If ever there is a single project Cayman needs to fund it’s this one. Years of research and planning went into this. It’s really mind-boggling how some person can show up on the shores and says it’s a waste of time/money. Is he even familiar with the Missouri model?

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