The Cayman Islands prisons system has processed more than 1,500 individuals in the past five years and about 88 percent of them are Caymanian, according to data obtained via a Freedom of Information request filed with the prisons service last month.

The numbers represent each individual, both male and female, processed through Her Majesty’s Prisons Service in the Cayman Islands from 2011 through 2015.

The figures include convicted prisoners and remand prisoners – those awaiting trial. The prison numbers do not reflect the total inmate population at a given time, only how many people came under the prisons’ jurisdiction during the year. Some of the individuals may be repeat offenders who are processed more than once.

Last year, government records showed a total of 299 people being processed through local prisons. According to the records, 256 – or 86 percent – were Caymanians. Another 43 (14 percent) were non-Caymanians. The breakdown showed that the vast majority of the prisoners (269) were male.

In 2014, out of 313 prisoners processed, 280 – or 89.5 percent – were Caymanians and 33 (10.5 percent) were non-Caymanians. The number of female prisoners processed was very low.

Of the prisoners processed in 2013, 92 percent were Caymanian: 294 out of 320 in total. Foreign nationals made up about 8 percent or 26 of the prisoners processed.

In 2012, 232 of the 257 total prisoners processed (90 percent) were Caymanian, and 25 of 257 were non-Caymanian.

In 2011, the number of Caymanian prisoners processed was 86 percent of the total (312 out of 361); foreigners made up the other 14 percent.

For the five years, the prisons service’s average processing figures were 88.6 percent Caymanians or 1,374 out of 1,550 total. Foreign residents made up the other 174.

Asked to comment on the figures Tuesday, Prisons Director Neil Lavis said the service was doing what it could to lower recidivism rates but had nothing to do with the frequency of arrests or the outcomes of those cases before the court.

The prisons data also shows that prisoner processing numbers have decreased generally since 2010, when they hit a high of more than 400 people going through the system. In 2011, 361 were processed, and last year the number was 299.

The number of foreign nationals going through the local jails fluctuated during the same period. In 2010, there were 53 non-Caymanians processed through the prisons system. That fell to 49 in 2011, and dropped to a low of 25 in 2012. In 2015, 43 non-Caymanians were processed.

There has been a decrease in the number of female prisoners going through the system since 2010, from 60 processed in 2010 to 30 in 2015.

The men’s prison had a resident population of more than 210 inmates as of early April. Mr. Lavis said at the time that it appeared the number of male prisoners had been increasing steadily in recent years with no apparent spikes. The resident number fluctuates on a daily basis and is separate from the annual processing figures.

Prisons Director Lavis told the Cayman Compass that the average prisoner roll for the government’s 2014/15 budget year – last year – was about 188 inmates, including Northward adult men’s prison, Fairbanks women’s prison and juvenile detention facilities.

In the first week of April, that number stood at 224, including the 211 prisoners at Northward and 13 women at the Fairbanks detention facility in George Town.

If you value our service, if you have turned to us in the past few days or weeks for verified, factual updates, if you have watched our live streaming of press conferences or sent an article to a friend... please consider a donation. Quality local journalism was at risk before the coronavirus crisis. It is now deeply threatened. Even a small amount can go a long way to sustaining our mission of informing the public. We need our readers’ financial support now more than ever.



  1. Just about 11 years ago the Cayman Government instituted visas for Jamaicans entering the Cayman Islands as visitors. Two major reasons were given. Firstly, the government argued that there were over 1,500 Jamaican overstayers in Cayman. Then when there was an increase in crime, fingers were pointed at the Jamaican population. As the former prison Chaplain, knowing the elements of Crime in Cayman and the population in the prison system I stood alone and declared that the excuses given by the government at the time for introducing visas was invalid and very incorrect.
    What you have now with approximately 90% of the prison population being Caymanian is just about what it was when I left the prison service in 2004. I must say that though I served as Chaplain, the Prison director, Mr John Forrester gave me the opportunity to work in other areas and with the management staff for the betterment of the prison. While there I did an unofficial survey which showed that the system in Cayman failed our young people from an early age. My survey showed that most of the inmates had been in the system from their early years and for many they had grown in the system through other organisations such as the Bonaventure home. The survey also showed that recidivism was trendy and that inmates were now very institutionalized to the point where they were comfortable with being at Her Majesty’s Prisons. The crime problem I argued in 2005 was not a Jamaican problem but one fully Caymanian.
    The facts are there. On top of that I argued for an amnesty and just over 100 Jamaicans took the Amnesty and left. This again was a slap in the face for those who argued that there were over 1,500 overstayers. As a Caymanian now pastoring in Jamaica, in Spanish Town to be exact, I must say that this whole farce of a visa system is probably a money making scheme as it seems to be for other countries. I still run a travel agency in Jamaica, and should mention that I do visas for the U.K., Canada, the U.S.A., Australia, and even Schengen countries. None of them ask Jamaicans for a Police record, only Cayman. I must re-iterate that Jamaicans are not the source of the crime-problem for Cayman. We have a lot of work to do and it begins with honesty, introspection, and determination. My friends at HMP are working hard with the inmates to reduce recidivism and to prepare inmates for the society. It is however the society that needs changing.
    Our legislators need to repeal the visa system, but introduce parenting laws, parenting classes in schools, develop local methods that work for Caymanians and stop importing methods along with people from countries that do not understand the structureless mindsets of the Caymanian Juvenile. Our legislators must stop talking about the drug problems and put more money into stopping its importation, while looking to keep our youngsters out of prison because of drugs. I would think by now that the drug court would change that, but too many of our young people are in prison for drugs or drug related problems. Our legislators must invest now in our youth as I suggested that 15 years ago and was told that we had to concentrate on those already there in the system. I say once again, change for the future begins today with an investment in the children. If we tackle the problem at the early stage, then the problem becomes minuscule in the future. Our legislators must listen to the voice of the people. What will our children be able to own tomorrow if everything is sold out today in the name of money?
    Yes, Northward is indeed 90% Caymanian and it is that way for a reason. Let us work now to address that and do so urgently. In closing, I am happy to see some of the lifers out. I fought for that. However, we must now look at some laws to retain some inmates. To protect our streets from serious crimes, some inmates do not deserve to be back on the streets. They behave well in the prison system, and I am sure back then I would have suggested parole for some of them. The truth is that the police can tell you that as soon as parolees get out, many get back involved in crime. That truth broke my heart and caused some depression, but I say it is time to recognize that some of them belong in prison for life. Get the laws in place now to protect our Island and keep our people proud of that one thing that makes us really different from other beautiful countries. Our Crime-free Cayman!

  2. I do not think we should be surprised at this but it does NOT means that Caymanians as a whole are more criminal than any other nationality.
    As we know, Police Clearance Certificates are required before anyone can move here on a work permit or as a resident. Thus by definition we are excluding those people who have a criminal record. Criminals should not, in theory, ever have a chance to move here.
    I agree with Mr. Blair above that more needs to be done to better educate young people. It seems that too many children are being born to teenage mothers, putting both the child and the mother at a disadvantage. What can be done? Free birth control pills perhaps?