The cost of housing adult prisoners in the Cayman Islands corrections system has ballooned 11 percent since 2010, from $56,000 to more than $64,000 per prisoner, per year, according to Prisons Director Neil Lavis.
Mr. Lavis said as of Thursday there were 175 men and 15 women in Her Majesty’s Prisons Northward and Fairbanks. The cost to house them, averaged over the course of one year, would be about $12.2 million.
During the 2009/10 fiscal year, government spent just over $56,000 per year, per prisoner. As of the current budget year, the cost has increased to $64,241. The majority of the cost includes salaries for prison officers, including pensions and healthcare, food for the prisoners and the full cost of prisoners’ healthcare, which is borne by the prisons service.
Mr. Lavis told the Legislative Assembly’s Finance Committee that the cost of feeding prisoners each day has actually been reduced from about $6 per day in 2010 to $4.17 per day, partly offset by the use of the prison farm for inmates to grow their own food.
According to a U.K. Ministry of Justice report from the 2012/13 budget year, Britain spends just more than $48,000 each year per prisoner – although expenditures per person vary depending on the type of inmate and the facility they are housed in.
Costs of housing U.S. prisoners varies widely from state to state. Federal prisons figures put the annual cost of housing a prisoner from US$21,000 for lower security to U.S. $33,000 for higher security.
However, those costs can rise much higher, depending on the jurisdiction. For instance, the New York Times found in 2013 that the city of New York spent more than $167,000 per year to guard, feed and house each prisoner in the municipal corrections system.
It’s not just the cost of housing prisoners that has increased. Next year’s government budget includes significant expenditures to upgrade crumbling security facilities at HM Northward.
The Northward prison complex in Bodden Town will be getting a $1.3 million face lift if the government budget is approved this month in Legislative Assembly.
Mr. Lavis said a closed-circuit camera security system is planned for the Northward prison property, including a control room where the cameras will be monitored. Now, the prisons have some internal cameras, but the outside fence is not monitored. He said cameras would be installed to watch the perimeter fence as well, and that those feeds would be monitored around the clock.
Money will also be used by the lockup for adult male offenders to make repairs to the prison’s external fence and install a new “internal fence” as a separate security measure, Mr. Lavis said.
The fence installation – which will cost more than $1 million – involves the construction of an 8-foot-high concrete interior wall and an 18-foot-high chain link fence. There will be two fence lines created, one around the prison perimeter and one inside the perimeter, Mr. Lavis said.