Three packed public jail facilities and a newly announced migrant-detention center/remand lock-up will await Cayman’s new full-time director of prisons.
Job listings for the prisons boss position went out this week, offering between $100,000 and $122,124 per year for someone with a four-year degree in criminology or related fields and at least 10 years of management experience in corrections.
Interim Prisons Director Steven Barrett, who has been in the job since mid-February, has said he would apply for the position with his current six-month posting set to expire in August.
Whoever is placed in the full-time job will face a desperate overcrowding situation at all of the available jail facilities on Grand Cayman.
As of late June, the adult male prison population at Her Majesty’s Prison, Northward had reached 221 people. The facility has a maximum capacity of 213.
In addition, the main adult women’s prison had 17 inmates – three shy of its maximum.
The Royal Cayman Islands Police jail was temporarily housing 11 Northward inmates, as well as six other people who had been arrested by police during the course of normal operations as of late June. The prison inmates and arrested individuals were being kept separate, police said. However, in ideal conditions, the police cells are not supposed to hold more than 12 people.
Faced with an untenable overcrowding situation at all main jail facilities, the government announced plans to open the Immigration Detention Centre to prisoners this week – freeing up another 22 spaces in Northward.
However, the detention center, which largely houses Cuban migrants who are not classed as “prisoners,” is not a security facility and will have to be “retrofitted,” according to Ministry of Immigration officials, to accommodate the new arrivals.
Moreover, the government has not fully developed any longer term plans to secure more or different prisoner housing. Mr. Barrett was asked about various proposals to increase prison space early on in his term.
“I am currently reviewing and pursuing a number of options to help manage the challenges we are experiencing with overcrowding, such as exploring what legislative and operational solutions are possible,” Mr. Barrett said at the time. “This includes seeking engagement with other criminal justice partners in regards to remanded prisoners, as well as thinking through what reconfiguration of the facility could be made to create additional space.
“I assure the public that the situation will not impact the department’s statutory obligations or compromise safety.”
The interim prisons boss said he is generally opposed to adding onto existing buildings at the Northward property in Bodden Town which may not be fit for purpose in any case. Mr. Barrett said at the time that Cayman’s law enforcement and political leadership needed to have better planning for prison facilities.