Her Majesty’s Prisons Service has seized more than 120 pounds of ganja in and around Northward Prison within the past two and a half years, according to statistics released Thursday to the Cayman Compass.
The prisons seized a total of 51.4 pounds of the illegal substance during 2016 and an even greater total of 63.7 pounds last year, according to prison records.
So far during 2018, the amounts seized have been much lower, totaling just 5.7 pounds between January and May.
The prisons service has a stated zero-tolerance policy toward ganja possession, which is illegal in the Cayman Islands. However, in practice, the agency has long struggled with keeping ganja out of the hands of its prisoners.
There are a myriad of ways individuals manage to get illegal drugs into the prison, some of which have been described in recent local court cases.
In one instance, a prisoner who went to the Cayman Islands Hospital for medical treatment was found carrying a quantity of ganja out of the bathroom stall he’d entered where the substance had clearly been left for him.
In another case from November 2017, a man was convicted of ganja possession after police said he was caught tossing 3.9 pounds of the drug over the Northward Prison fence. The court heard the man simply ran up to the Northward security fence and threw several packages over it in the late afternoon. He was arrested almost immediately.
In a third incident from last year, a young woman was arrested trying to deliver ganja to a Northward inmate by hiding the substance inside her child’s diaper.
About three ounces of ganja were found in the two-year-old’s diaper during an entry search, according to prisons officials. The ready supply of illegal drugs into Cayman’s main adult male prison – which has been packed to capacity since the early part of this year – is a major concern to both the Cayman Islands and British governments.
One of the tasks assigned to visiting sailors from the RFA Mounts Bay after they landed along Seven Mile Beach on June 1 was to help clear some of the heavy bush around Northward Prison as a security precaution.
The Mounts Bay crew used a bulldozer and other heavy equipment to clear bushland in the back of the prison property. The heavily forested area is often used as a hiding place for individuals who toss illegal drugs and other contraband over the security fence.
“They’re cleaning up the weeds to ensure there is no weed,” said Governor Anwar Choudhury at the time, who was on hand to oversee the Royal Navy sailors’ work.
The cleanup effort around the prison, which was also done in 2017 by the Mounts Bay crew, is also part of an effort to familiarize the sailors with the surroundings in case a natural disaster occurs.
Franz Manderson, who is now acting governor following the temporary withdrawal of Mr. Choudhury from his position, said Thursday that the sheer amount of the ganja recovered since 2016 showed the depth of the problem Cayman faces in fighting the illegal substance.
The prison service has also struggled with keeping another type of contraband – mobile phones – out of the lockup.
It is against Cayman Islands law to have a mobile phone inside the walls of Northward and the adult female prison, Fairbanks. Yet, a total of 75 such devices were recovered from prisoners at the two facilities between January and November 2017.
According to court testimony in one recent case, the law did not stop one Northward inmate from admittedly “abusing” his domestic partner using a stashed mobile device for a period of five months.
The adult male and female prison facilities combined averaged just under seven mobile device seizures per month during 2017.
In the past, prisoners at Northward have used smuggled mobile devices to post pictures of themselves on social media, or even arrange for crimes to be committed “on the outside” of the prison facilities.