Northward footballers in drugs bust

Several members of the Cayman Islands prison’s five-a-side indoor football team tried to return to lock-up with some illegal items Monday night following a match at King’s Sports Centre, according to 
prisons officials.

The seizure included drugs, alcohol and other contraband. The inmates, who were escorted and transported by officers to and from the game, were being processed upon their return 
to lock up when the illegal items were found.

About 6 ounces of ganja, rolling papers and a mobile phone charger was found on the four prisoners involved, Prisons Director Neil Lavis said. Officers at Her Majesty’s Prison at Northward also recovered some liquor in a plastic container after smelling alcohol 
on the inmates.

During a follow-up search of the inmates’ cells, officers recovered two cell phones and a spare phone battery. Cell phone devices are 
considered contraband in the Cayman Islands prisons system.

Director Lavis commended his officers for their vigilance and prompt action.

“The zero-tolerance policy on contraband means that anyone attempting to bring these items into the prison will be dealt with severely,” Mr. Lavis said.

It’s certainly not the first time contraband seizures have been made in Mr. Lavis’s fledgling term as the prison system’s top administrator.

The weekend of 20 and 21 July, a BlackBerry cell phone and charger and about 5 ounces of what was believed to be ganja were recovered at the men’s prison at Northward.

The contraband, which also included cigarette rolling papers, was apparently tossed over a fence into the Northward compound. Prison officers have images of the person who threw the items over the 15-foot chain link fence, which is topped with razor wire.

The four inmates busted with the contraband Monday night following the football game were immediately removed from Northward’s “enhanced wing” and their prison categorisation level increased, which means they are considered higher risk and resulted in a loss of their privileges.

Northward has entered a team in the local indoor football league for many years. The prison service will continue that activity, but only for inmates who conform to the rules, Mr. Lavis said.

Being on the football team is considered a privilege at Northward and it’s part of several activities outside lock-up that Mr. Lavis has said he wants inmates involved in. The additional activities, whether paid or unpaid work, volunteering and sports activities, will assist with reintegration into society once inmates have served their sentence, the prisons director said.

Prison work being contemplated includes cleaning up local beaches, roadsides and doing other various odd jobs.

Mr. Lavis, who arrived from the UK in late June, has said that he would like to get “Class D” prisoners – the least violent category of offenders within Northward – out on the streets in work crews as soon as possible.

“I’d like to have prisoners who are low risk going out into the community every day, doing things like clearing up beaches, clearing up rubbish,” Mr. Lavis said. “They may do that from the probation site now, but we don’t do anything like that and it’s a missed opportunity.”