No budget for prisoner release law

| 09/06/2015 | 5 Comments
Cayman News Service

HMP Northward

(CNS): The government has not made any budget allocation for the prison service to implement the requirement of the new conditional release law that was passed last October, as it is not expected to come into force any time soon. The legislation was meant to pave the way for the structured rehabilitation of offenders before they are released and to provide for specified minimum tariffs for those serving mandatory life sentences.

But the premier, who has responsibility for the prison budget as minister for home affairs, said that the regulations are far from ready as legal drafters struggle with a heavy workload.

Answering questions last week in Finance Committee regarding the $10 million budget for the prison and the almost $7 million community rehabilitation budget, Alden McLaughlin indicated that the law was delayed because of a shortage of drafters to work on the bill’s supporting rules and regulations that would enable the law’s implementation.

The legislation was passed in order to help meet the requirements of the 2009 constitution, and in particular the Bill of Rights. The need to create a minimum tariff term for lifers was a major priority for government as it had been warned by the Human Rights Commission and numerous attorneys that the continuation of the status quo with the mandatory life sentencing, meaning inmates die behind bars, could be challenged under the Bill of Rights.

Despite the urgency over the need to introduce tariffs, the law, which also deals with the rehabilitation of all offenders before release, appears to be many months away from implementation and no money has been allocated to cover what will be more structured and stringent rehabilitation requirements and sentencing planning under that law.

Asked when the law was coming into effect, the premier said he did not know, as he pointed to a shortage of drafters that was impacting many other laws and accompanying regulations.

“If the regulations are completed … and it can be implemented than we will need to make adjustments and find savings somewhere else to cover (the costs) but the law is not contemplated in this financial budget,” McLaughlin confirmed.

Prison Director Neil Lavis, however, spoke about the concerted efforts in the face of limited resources to help improve the rehabilitation of offenders in the service. He said a new ‘release on licence’ programme appeared to be helping reduce recidivism because working with the Department of Community Rehabilitation there was now a continuum of care beyond the prison gates for newly released prisoners. But the main problem he faced was finding work for those former inmates.

Lavis said that the prison was doing what it could to work with the community and local employers, but finding ones willing to employ inmates who are being released wasn’t easy.

In a recent interview with CNS (see below) Lavis pointed out that rehabilitation is a community issue that was everyone’s business, and while it is hard to persuade people that prisons need the money to help change the lives of those incarcerated, without proper rehabilitation the public suffers when inmates are released and they immediately return to their offending behavior.

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Category: Crime, Prison, Video

Comments (5)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Lets released rapists and cold blooded murderers cause it is the Human Rights agreement??? BS!!!!! Once a rapist and a cold blooded murderer always a rapist and cold blooded murderer…no rehabilitation for that type of person…but yet they are walking the streets of cayman…

  2. Anonymous says:

    release all of the animals but pay them 1500 per month to behave and you save lots of money if they offend again back into the cage they go ,only problem many more crimes would be committed to get the short vacation and then the free ride after that

  3. Anonymous says:

    Again there is that term “Caymanian”. Please remember we are not all right wing idiots who have no idea of the cause and effect nature of offending or social deprivation for that matter.

    • coprophagiac says:

      Actually I am a “Caymanian” who has other “liberal” Caymanian minded friends.

      However, the reality is that we have a variety of very punitive laws and one of the highest incarceration rates in the world.

  4. coprophagiac says:

    Typical right-wing, punitive Caymanian thinking. We would rather spend $69,000.00 keeping someone in jail, than spend a fraction of that on community support or social services as a preventative measure.

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