Prisoners released early during health crisis

Northward Prison
Northward Prison

A number of inmates nearing the end of their sentences have been released early from prison amid the COVID-19 crisis, Police Commissioner Derek Byrne confirmed Saturday.

In response to questions at the government’s daily briefing, the commissioner said a “small number” of prisoners had been freed, in accordance with early release regulations.

He did not specify how many prisoners had been released.

He said they had been set free to address concerns over social distancing within the prison system.

Byrne added that a threat assessment had been carried out by police and prison officials and it had been determined that the releases posed no risk to the community.

“All those persons released have to return to a permanent address, their primary homes,” he said.

He added that there was no indication that the released prisoners were showing any COVID-19 symptoms.

The commissioner also addressed a question relating to whether the prisons had enough space to house people convicted of curfew violations. On Friday, one person received a four-month prison sentence for breaching Cayman’s hard curfew, which restricts the movement of anyone other than essential workers from the hours of 7pm until 5am daily.

“There is space in Northward,” Byrne said, adding that any overflow could be accommodated at the police detention facility.

People found to be in breach of curfew face a maximum penalty of a $3,000 fine and one-year imprisonment.

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