Editorial for September 27: Cayman jails: In conflict with our Constitution

There has been no secret made for the past several years of the fact that the Cayman Islands police jail facilities were little better than third-world quality.

Just as one example, a U.K. prisons inspection completed earlier this year revealed: “There was a protected witness being held [in a separate area to the main George Town police station custody cells], who had been in isolation for over a month. The door to his cell was left open so that he could also use the corridor, but his cell and corridor were dark with no natural light. He had no way of telling what time of day it was, had not been outside for several weeks and was clearly depressed.”  

Both Police Commissioner David Baines and Home Affairs Ministry chief officer Eric Bush have spoken repeatedly about the need for new and/or improved jail cells for the police service. However, funding for those improvements has simply not been available.  

Sadly, no long-term solution was put in place to deal with these issues while the local government was building Bodden Town Public Beach kiosks, the Cayman Brac “Hurricane Hilton,” the Christian Heritage Monument in George Town, and spending CI$10 million annually on the Cayman Turtle Farm subsidy.  

The problem now is that the Bill of Rights contained in the Cayman Islands Constitution Order, 2009, will require police jails to be maintained and operated according to a certain standard. The government believes the construction of modular facilities in Fairbanks to house police prisoners will address the situation, at least in the short term. 

However, even they admit the Fairbanks option is a short- to medium-term fix at best. A longer-term solution must be found that will bring Cayman’s police prisons up to first-world standards and hopefully stave off the flood of litigation that will commence if it fails to do so.