Cayman failing young offenders

| 14/01/2016 | 27 Comments
Cayman News Service

Chief Justice Anthony Smellie

(CNS): The chief justice has raised his concerns over the continued failure to address the issue of young offenders. Among the topics he raised in his presentation to the legal fraternity at the ceremonial court opening on Wednesday, CJ Anthony Smellie urged government to address the situation. “Exposing them to the adult prison environment continues to be an unacceptable and sad failure on the part of the state and a terrible abrogation of the rights of these young people to fair and proper treatment under the law,” the country’s top judge said.

“Everyone accepts that Eagle House does not meet the appropriate standards because it is within the confines of the adult prison at Northward, as indeed the facility at Fairbanks Prison for women renders that institution unsuitable for the detention of young girls,” Smellie added.

The chief justice said work which should have started last year on a suitable facility was again delayed, as he urged members of government in the audience, including the premier whose ministry is responsible, of the importance of doing everything possible to restore young offenders to a proper way of life.

But alongside the lack of a proper remand facilities, the insufficient number of people at the Department of Child and Family Services and the probation service assigned to handle young offenders was also hampering the disposal of cases involving children and young people in the justice system.

“Of necessity, social workers and probation officers are involved in public law applications under the Children Law and cases involving youth offenders. DCFS officers are also needed to provide welfare and social enquiry reports in private law cases and in Family Court matters. The shortage of personnel affects the timeliness of their output and this in turn inevitably slows down the rate at which cases can be disposed,” he warned, as he urged government to provide “badly needed” increase in staff for the pressed and hard-working departments.

While there are numerous issues impacting young offenders, the chief justice said he welcome at least the opening of Phoenix House for young people at risk at the Bonaventure site in West Bay as well as the work which is almost finished at the Frances Bodden Girls Home, which he said was urgently needed to ensure that girls and boys can be kept in separate and equally secure accommodations.

Among the many other issues he touched on in his address the senior judge returned to his long standing call for a new courthouse. Slow but “tangible” progress is being made but and PricewaterhouseCoopers is currently developing the outline business case.

“They will have 100 days in which to do this. Once complete, the business case will go to Cabinet for approval and, assuming the project is approved, we then move into the construction phase. On this basis, we are expecting that construction should be well underway by this time next year,” CJ Smellie stated. However, he made it clear that the lack of an appropriate court facility continues to impact the rate of disposal of cases.

As at 31 December 2015, there were 149 criminal indictments awaiting trial in the grand court, an increase of 31 compared to the year before. Only 72 indictments were completed, with indictments going back as far as six years. Describing the situation as a troubling trend despite the best efforts of court staff and judges to try at least two indictments simultaneously, the chief justice warned that the courts needed to do more than two at a time to address the backlogged indictments.

“This will not be possible within the existing court facilities and without even further disruption and delays in the Summary Courts,” he said. “I must remind us that the chronic lack of court space has become a real matter of national concern: it affects our ability to dispose of the very many complex and important cases coming before the FSD and of even more immediate concern, our ability to provide justice in a timely manner in cases which involve the welfare of children and the liberty of persons,” the CJ warned.

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Category: Courts, Crime

Comments (27)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    That’s a wig, right?

    • Louis Vuitton says:

      Yes, the grand English tradition is that whenever a dispute rises to the level of needing keen wisdom and justice, then the people must go to the man who wears a dress and a wig. He will give the wrongdoers a cross dressing-down.

  2. Sharkey says:

    ssm345, you don’t want to get Government involved any more and telling you how to raise your family, it will ever stop.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Meanwhile we still promote a “certain culture” in education because we mostly only hire or promote teachers from certain countries and scare off the rest.

    If your educators are sympathizers to this type of savagery because they are used to this as normal from growing up in Jamaica/Central America/Africa, then you wont see any shock or solutions from the very same leaders in education.

    In fact they will just laugh it off as a lesson that all visitors will need to learn. The kids in school pick up on this and BAM, instant and perpetual crime that makes their racists mums, dads and teachers happy.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Ironically, it’s the sustained objection from extreme-right Churches that have limited contraception education and access – that might have prevented the generations of unwanted feral children our frail system was never engineered to process. With no positive male role models, these kids will father more unwanted children of their own in an endless cycle common throughout the Caribbean. Cayman needs to have a sophisticated discussion about the social impact of living in 1650. The religious quaintness has clear and expensive social consequences for the rest of us trying to live in 2016.

  5. Anonymous says:

    All criminals should be put in solitary confinement. That way they meet no other criminals. It is logical to imprison younger prisoners for longer as they are more likely to commit more crimes on release. It is the perverse liberal agenda that puts them back on the streets early, having met with other criminals in jail, to commit more crime and harm to good people. Criminals are scum and we are too soft on them.

    • Anonymous says:

      Reduce criminality among the young by reduction in reproduction among young people, who are not able or capable of proving for babies. Those babies have become the country’s burden in later years and into the future.
      Change only happens when one is determined to make it happen. Those who end up in prison made the choice and only them can change it.

    • Anon says:

      Isn’t it weird the way those who have access to better education, stable home lives and are mentally healthy generally don’t become criminals whereas those growing up in poverty, with unstable family and a sh1tty education tend to get into trouble more? Must be because poor people are scum and should be locked up immediately at birth rather then society attempting to help them in the areas that will make a difference to their and the rest of our lives. In case you didn’t get it I am being sarcastic – I think your ideas around juvenile justice are perverse and completely unhelpful in the long run.

      • Anonymous says:

        A pathetic straw man moment to leap from the increased rate of criminality among certain groups, “tend to get into trouble more”, to a facetious comment about locking up all within that group. The OP referred to criminals, people who commit crime. They are the ones being locked up and their decision to harm society was theirs and theirs alone. The vast majority of the poor and poorly educated are law abiding and while the poor may have a greater incentive to some crime because of the associated loss of opportunity in not being criminals is less, it is still a free choice made by criminals to step outside the law. Where you argumentation ultimately goes, but you were too cowardly to make it express, it to be an apologist for criminals because of their background, and that is at the heart of the liberal agenda which ends up offering criminals more opportunities to reoffend and which means that a small fortune is wasted on those that are incarcerated.

        • Anon says:

          You are completely right – I was exaggerating in order to point out how silly it is to spend money on detecting crime, prosecuting crime and then locking people up rather than spending the same amount of money on providing education, social services and mental health facilities. I am in no way hiding my liberal agenda – i believe that criminal justice is a complete waste of time and money and treats only the symptoms of what is wrong with society rather than the root cause. If we provide world class education and social services to our people we could quickly eliminate the growing problem of crime.

          • Anonymous says:

            At least we agree that spending money on try to rehabilitate these losers is a waste of time. Your pie in the sky liberalism is endearing but dangerous. It is the nature of some to be criminals and no amount of spending on education etc is going to change that. Forget the causes of crime approach, just hammer the criminals hard and keep the worst ones of the streets as they have no place in society of good people. Scum just scum.

      • Anonymous says:

        Sometimes poverty stems from individuals having too any children. How about keeping legs closed and sticks in pants?

      • Lily says:

        Well said 3.23!

  6. Anonymous says:


  7. The Country With No Plan ( and no soul) says:

    I respond to Anonymous 11:23am comment. I am sure you have heard the phrase: Empty barrels make the most noise. If you have nothing constructive and sensible to contribute to such an important discussion, then please by quiet. You are an embarrassment to this country. A violation of International Children Rights and your guided response is to “send them to another country” who has some “kool-aid” to cure them. Please, these blogs are read internationally. Stop embarrassing our country.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Remove them from the environment. Rehabilitation is only possible if they are sent off island.

    • Anonymous says:

      Sending them to the Brac is an excellent idea. They are detached from civilisation and the Brac serves a usueful purpose.

  9. Sharkey says:

    Why does it takes for a Judge to point this out the F Government that this can be consider child cruelty and child abuse. .

    • Anonymous says:

      Sharkey, isn’t that compulsory here?

    • SSM345 says:

      Maybe the Chief Justice could propose a law and Government pass it that locks up their Parents for failing to raise their kids properly?
      And perhaps the Government Schools should stop graduating students who shouldn’t be graduating in the first place so that they are destined for complete failure in life?

      Now theirs a thought.

      In next weeks news, Government and their Parents will be telling us that its the expats causing this problem.

      • Anonymous says:

        Giving your woeful grammar, I would think a couple more years in High School would have been useful. “Now theirs a thought”.

        PS Do not capitalise nouns unless they are proper nouns or used at the start of a sentence. The over capitalisation to the Germans can be left.

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