CIG admits prison needs major cash injection

| 26/06/2015 | 13 Comments
Cayman News Service

HMP Northward, Grand Cayman

(CNS): Government officials have acknowledged that without significant investment in the infrastructure, the local prison system will keep failing inspections. A follow-up inspection of the Cayman Islands Prison Service and of the custody cells by the UK inspectorate found little improvement in any of the facilities, despite some upgrades since their visit in 2012. In the report made public yesterday, the inspectors pointed to some improvements but also noted the failure of government over the last three years to make any significant advance on improving the infrastructure.

“Work is still required in many areas and some issues, like the failing physical infrastructure, will require a major capital investment from the government to attain a passing score,” government officials said in a statement released about the report. “In anticipation of this the prison has commissioned a full estate evaluation from a company with extensive expertise in this area.”

In a recent interview with CNS, Prison Director Neil Lavis told CNS that the service has a cost estimate for a complete new prison, though that sum has not been revealed. Lavis said he was battling for resources, as he acknowledged the reality of the unpopularity of spending money on prisons.

Unlikely to get the money required for a new facility, he has been focusing on improvements that can be achieved with existing resources, using prisoners and the maintenance unit to help rebuild and renovate at the current sites.

He explained that one of the first successful small projects was the young offenders unit, and others will be forthcoming to upgrade areas of the prison.

Cayman News Service

Cayman Islands Prison Director Neil Lavis

“There are two prongs of attack,” Lavis explained earlier this month, ahead of the publication of the latest report. “One I am saying, here’s how much a brand new prison would be and this what we need to do. But if not, I am bidding for money to upgrade the existing buildings we have got. Spending money on prisons is not seen as popular. If you have a pot of money, would you spend it on a school or a prison. I know what the general public would say, they would want that money spent on a school and I understand that.”

Lavis’ comments are backed up by the public comments to recent news stories on CNS about the prison. Few readers have been support of the funding and many want to see the almost $70,000 a year the public spends on locking up offenders spent on other things.

But Lavis understands that running a jail is neither cheap nor easy and he said he would continue to press for the investment needed to house local inmates in a secure, safe and humane environment.

“I am up against it when battling for resources for the prison but that is my job and I will fight hard,” he added.

Lavis, however, was cited as one of the positive improvements in the follow-up inspection. The inspectors said, “In many respects, treatment and conditions were still poor but improvement was evident. The prisons now had a new Director who had made a significant difference. There was more accountability and the indifference observed in 2012 was being challenged through new procedures and more energetic leadership.”

Although the return inspection was not as positive as the director hoped, it did find improved perimeter security at HMP Northward and the newly refurbished young persons’ unit was described as the only exception to the appalling conditions at both prisons.

The recent inspection was carried out in January, when the UK inspectors were here for ten days on a following up to an inspection undertaken in 2012. In the wake of the damning report, Lavis was hired because of his experience in turning around failing prisons.

“Mr Lavis came on board in June 2013 and has been working tirelessly with his team at the prison to address the shortcomings of the service which were identified in the Inspection Report,” ministry officials stated.

See related article with inspection reports attached

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Category: Crime, Prison

Comments (13)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    low priority

  2. Cirque d'Security says:

    The end goal here is a juicy private security firm contract. First cameras. Next guards. Finally, the whole kaboodle.

    Private prison management is a multi billion dollar industry in the USA and one of the reasons they have skewed their justice system heavily towards incarceration for most infractions. The more inmates you have the more money you make (off the back of the ordinary taxpayer).

    Not a good path for Cayman to continue to follow.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Watch for a recommendation for prison management to be outsourced, such as is the new trend in the US. Hope they look under every stone before considering that one!! It has been revealed as a lucrative scam in the US.

    Bet the same Government and private partners in outsourcing Government security contracts will be involved!!

  4. Anonymous says:

    How about subsidizing HM Prison service from all the million$ allocated to RCIPS?? They don’t seem to be using theirs for any good result!!

  5. Anonymous says:

    From what I read of the report on line, the rehabilitation program is not working and whatever little is offered is of a poor quality. Where did all the money go that was spent on rehabilitation, that has nothing to do with the buildings. Where is the accountability. I thought rehabilitation was the thrust of the day. The wool is pulled over our eyes. Can they explain the rehabilitation effort. The place is wash with ganja, why send them to prison then. How much money was spent on rehabilitation, can some one account for this?

  6. Anonymous says:

    Legalize weed. Problem solved.

  7. Sharkey says:

    I’m reading and understand what Mr Lavis want is a new prison but not coming out and directly saying so, or a lot of money to play with . How about these people working in the prison doing a little more work for their pay, by given the prisoners some work to do that would help with the up keep and maintenance of the prison. A prisoner should know that life in prison would not be the same as living free out side . I don’t think that the Government can afford a new prison unless he is expecting some new prisoners that deserves a new fancy prison to spend their time in.

  8. William says:

    We are now governed by laws of the WORLD not just laws of cayman, putting someone in jail,and throwing away the key is the small minded answer of many people here it seems, however human rights as we know govern how we must keep people, this prison is old, falling apart, dangerous, many many areas of it condemned, typical comment of build schools I see?

    If the government invested in a safe new prison and children’s facility and mental health facility then there are 3 areas addressed right there, however they won’t and cayman will keep on failing in that department and no one seems to care or mind, simple,

    Let’s build a church or another school or spend millions on keeping Cubans in derelict buildings too, gotta love it

  9. The Country With No Plan says:

    To the ” policy advisors” who are blogging solutions, I respectfully ask you to question how and why the system seems not to work. It’s your right. It’s your money.

    How about suggesting that Civil Servant, who earn salaries, be expected and committed ( by you) to implement and deliver Programs to DECREASE the amount of persons entering the Prison System?

    Reducing Prison Staff salaries and hiring criminals to house criminals, will result in higher costs. Or put another way, assuming you are working, and I am feel the costs of your companies product or service is too high, how would you feel if I suggest to your Company that they cut your salary so my bill goes down? You ok with that? I don’t think so.

    Stop the hate, and trash talking, and start asking – What are You, the Civil Servants, not Government, doing with my money, to do your job, to reduce these costs? Trust me, Civil Servants ARE NOT DOING THEIR JOBS!!

    Maybe the Civil Service on a WHOLE needs a salary cut – because they not bringing any solutions to the table. They busy getting fat and running up debt, borrowing money and too depressed and fat to implement programs to make a difference. They too busy working to maintain a life style that they have not earned but YET paid for.

    Caymanians, start holding people accountable for your $700 million dollars, and stop abusing the most vulnerable in our society. I know it’s easier – but easy is cheap!!! Tough is expensive!!!

  10. Anonymous says:

    Invest money in schools!!!!!

    • Anonymous says:

      Absolutely! If you spend the money in the reserves on the development of the new John Gray, there would no longer be 3 prison camps in Cayman – only two (Northward and Fairbanks). For far too long, the students have been treated badly in the districts of George Town and West Bay!

  11. Anonymous says:

    How about cutting staff and salaries and change sentencing for some offences? Solving more than one problem then

  12. Anonymous says:

    MORE MONEY AGAIN??? please don’t buy this crap again!

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