Drugs fuelled 43% of prisoner’s crimes

| 29/04/2016 | 26 Comments
Cayman News Service

HMP Northward, Grand Cayman

(CNS): Drug use was cited as the direct or indirect reason for a significant number of prisoners’ crimes, according to the results of a survey undertaken by the National Drug Council in 2013. At the time, just over a third of inmates (35%) were serving time for drug convictions but more than 43% of inmates convicted of other crimes said drugs were the underlying cause because they were either under the influence of drugs when they committed their crime or they committed the crime to get drugs. The survey also found that more prisoners are smoking ganja in the jail than smoke tobacco, which is still permitted.

While booze also featured as a cause of crime, it was considerably less so than drugs, with around 22% of inmates blaming alcohol for their criminality. Only 4% of inmates said they committed a crime to get money for drink, compared to more than 11% who committed a crime to feed a drug habit.

The NDC is currently conducting its fourth survey at the prison, having started the assessments in 2009, to update the statistics, as officials say the data helps the prison form policies to address drug use.

With rehabilitation now a condition of early release for all inmates, the prison will, more than ever, need to find ways of helping its population address their addictions and dependency behaviour. Prison officials said that describing the consumption patterns among inmates before and during incarceration, as well as identifying social factors relating to offending and drug use, is essential in informing programming and policies within the prison.

As HMP Northward marks its 35 the anniversary this week, the prison service has been raising awareness in the community about the prison, and drugs remain a critical part of prison life.

There are currently 211 men at HMP Northward and 15 women at HMP Fairbanks, most of whom will be released at some point and the prison management indicated that they need the resources to help with the transition.

While the NDC and other stakeholders are helping to address drug use with drug education programmes and substance abuse prevention programmes, the management said this week during the prison open day that these programmes and counselling services are under threat whenever the prison is full, as it is at present, or other challenges strain the prison’s limited resources to breaking point.

The prison staff also noted that the programmes, when they are available, are still voluntary, but with the implementation of the Conditional Release Law, inmates will need to get clean. The survey found that over 80% of inmates felt drug rehabilitation should be mandatory.

With the prison severely underfunded, the prison director said his staff do an incredible job in trying circumstances but the need for resources to address drug misuse as it becomes a factor in any prisoner’s release is going to stretch the prison service beyond its ability to cope unless the home affairs ministry, headed up by Premier Alden McLaughlin, can find the funds to boost the prison service budget next month.

Spending funds on the prison remains very unpopular in Cayman, as it is in most societies, since it entails cutting budgets in other areas to find the money, and therefore presents a risk to politicians. But without the funding for consistent rehabilitation, especially for drug misuse, experts agree that prison cannot work.

Warehousing inmates until their release date has led to Cayman’s high recidivism rates. The 2013 NDC survey revealed that 60% of the population at the time had been in jail before this occasion.

The survey revealed that the majority of inmates in jail in 2013 (55.1%) were there in relation to violent crime. Inmates also admitted to owning, using and having access to guns. Almost 15% of inmates were convicted for gun related crime and over 8% said they owned a firearm, but almost 23% said they had access to a gun and another 40% said it was easy to get a gun in Cayman, with 32% indicating that it was possible to rent one.

More than 32% of prisoners said they needed a gun when it came to dealing with drugs. Almost three-quarters of the inmates surveyed said that the penalties for gun crime — a mandatory minimum of ten years for possession alone — was not a deterrent and did not stop people from carrying a firearm.

Around a third of inmates that took part in the survey refused to talk about guns or did not know anything about them.

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Category: Crime, Prison

Comments (26)

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  1. Mugabe Andy foster says:

    25 years of drug addiction and alcoholism, inside and outside of drug program and prisons In the United States of America, for the last 25 years I have been free from drug addiction and alcoholism I bear Witness that drug addicts and alcoholic can change their life,
    5 years ago I visit Grand Canyon, Georgetown remind me of Los Angeles California 25 years ago when crack cocaine change so many people life. I see the same pictures, which destroyed so many young people lives. In Los Angeles 25 years ago in Georgetown yes Grand Cayman definitely need to get on top of this problem very soon by providing education in your prison concerning drug and alcohol addictions, in your schools,churches, courtrooms boardrooms, any organization which deal with the community-at-large and most important you must educate your population concerning addictions. If I can be of any assistance please feel free to email me much love always Brothers and Sisters of the Cayman Islands

  2. Edutainment says:

    Drug treatment in Prisons only work if there is a continuum of care, meaning, that once released there must be a 1/2 way house as a continuation of care. Otherwise, they will surround themselves with the same toxic people and continue to use drugs. So yes, to be done properly for positive results and not just a band aid approach, it will cost more than what the decision-makers are thinking.
    Of course you can give them some vocational education but how will they be given a chance to work as they need a clean police record.

    Sounds like we have bigger issues with the gun culture that is continually evolving and a remedy needed for that. That’s a different mind set that you are dealing with now. The younger ones unlike the more seasoned guys, do not need drugs(cocaine/crack) to give them the courage to commit robbery or other violent crimes. They have now evolved an epitomizes the true definition of the criminal.

    Most prisoners , the world over, use some sort of drug in prison “to help the time go by”. The most popular drug to do this with is a legal drug that can be obtained through a Doctor and dished out by the Prison Nurse. Trust me its not the illegal ones that they gravitate to in order to help them through their sentence. Did the NDC ask about these legal drugs of use?.

  3. Anonymous says:

    So the cause of 43% of crime is imported. Protect our freaking borders!

  4. Anonymous says:

    There are 211 men in Northward, a prison built with max capacity of 165. While it is possible that some of those inmates may have been defiantly smoking a spliff at the time of their arrest (they may even be known to their relatives for that) most were arrested for the increasingly violent crimes they had previously committed, i.e. the preceding armed burglary, bludgeoning an old lady for her handbag, stabbing someone, the transshipment or trafficking of pounds of ganja, cocaine, firearms and ammunition, rape, gang murder, harbouring fugatives from justice, armed robbery, firearm possession, vehicular manslaughter etc. Let’s not sugar coat the underlying reality that many of these same people have had past troubles with their schools and the law from the time they were juveniles 11-18, and it may be true that those were ganja-related. This is likely not Little Johnny’s first trip to the fair. If we are going to have a serious discussion about the source of these societal problems, we need to dispel the denial and the popular myth that the bulk of Caymanian inmates are victims of non-violent misunderstandings, being put away for smoking a spliff. Sadly, just not true, and decades of Cause Lists back that up. https://www.judicial.ky/courts/cause-lists

  5. Anonymous says:

    Why are all drug abusers not treated the same? In a compassionate society, drug abuse has to be a medical problem and not a criminal problem.

    We have programs for alcohol abuse, so why not other drugs? If our position is that it is criminal because it causes addiction and anti-social behaviour, then what about prescription drug abuse? You can only be a prescription drug abuser if you did something illegal, so why is the law enforcement so lopsided against some illegal drug abuse and not others?

    My opinion is that it is lopsided because it is easier to enforce the laws against the weakest and poorest members of our society. I am disappointed that our Cayman society has changed to now think that this is normal.

    I pray that the National Drug Council sees it role as one that encourages our society to see all drug abuse as a medical problem and not a criminal one. Let us not forget that we are a compassionate society and that is more normal for us to help each other than to punish stupid mistakes.

  6. Have u wondering haha says:

    I was prisoner who was recently released and let me tell u they ain’t spending no 70,000 on one prisoner u can hardly get anything in here they are lying to the public me personally don’t see where they spending that money …there is no classes going on in there all the prisoners do all day is sit down on the cell block but yet they telling the public they giving all types of classes not true…only the Jamaican gets to go outside and work while the caymanians get the bad name …I was there so I know

    For the government can someone give us a break down on what they really spends the money on…cause not even to toilet paper they gets at times yeah and this is true..u ask. For anything it’s a run around …

    For the public what u see they coming on TV telling u all is just bullsgit lies trust me I was there did 3 years in there and nothing has change …there is only one education class going on now which is computer ….they paying two teacher to do computer class and the Jamaican teacher don’t even know how use the computer the inmates has to help not even to creating a email address to sign up for the Alison online course …as they saying they want rehabilitate the prisoners the staff need help themselves ….no English classe no maths classes they had a/c repairs and that stop they had mechanics and that stop only VT program now is wood work shop which isn’t a class it’s where the government uses the inmates to make stuff and the prison sell it to the public and collect money the prison not the prisoners …cheap labour I call it

    Some one really need to go in there and see what’s going on……XXXX

    Only good thing I must say bout the Gaurds they does a good job TRYING stop the weed from getting in but that is with the help of the informers in there lmao..

    .,cayman please wake up they are connin una off bout spending almost 70grand on one prisoner tell the public te truth

  7. Anonymous says:

    We need to decriminalize smaller amounts of drugs for personal use and use the money for education and rehabilitation.
    Cayman is spending almost $70,000 per annum, per prisoner (who come out and usually re-offends in short order). We cannot afford to continue down this path!

    • Anonymous says:

      It costs more than that to deal with their next violent offense. Just keep them in longer. The ones who are out seem to be heading back shortly anyway.

  8. Sunrise says:

    I have said this before and I will state it again. Most of our teenagers are ending up in prison for the simple possession of marijuana. Thus, their future is ruined as so to speak, due to the fact that it is almost impossible to obtain work after they are released from prison. Once you have a criminal record, no matter for what, chances are you will not be able to obtain employment. We have to start looking at decriminalizing marijuana here; this is the first step to helping this situation. Especially, if prison is supposed to be a deterrent and the prisoners are smoking more marijuana inside of the prison than cigarettes. I do think that something is definitely wrong with this picture. First, how is the marijuana getting inside of the prison? Second, how can the prisoners find time and places to smoke this marijuana without getting caught? Third, could this be some sort of ring operating here in the Cayman Islands, catch the young ones, send them to prison so more money can be made inside by an unknown drug ring? I am really confused about this scenario, how can this go on for so long without any serious actions taken? I really think this is a lot deeper than we know. We have to face the reality, and here in Cayman, we prefer to cover up reality rather than to face it. We can ignore reality, but we cannot ignore the consequences of ignoring reality.

    Were the crimes committed because of marijuana use or other drug uses? We have to try and help anyone that requires counseling for any drug or alcohol problem, but I can almost bet that a harder drug than marijuana was used if it was connected with a crime!! We have to start living in the new world as so to speak.

    I would love to see stricter rules and laws on the purchasing and consumption of liquor rather than marijuana. I would like to see the age raised for consuming alcohol to age 21. You would not be allowed in a bar or nightclub until you are 21 years old and have proper ID. It is a joke that you cannot buy groceries from a supermarket on a Sunday but you can go to a bar, get shit face drunk, leave those premises, and kill someone because of drunk driving. Wow, now that really baffles me, how about you?

    I personally do not use marijuana, just in case some are thinking that I am fighting to have it legalized for my own use. I am fighting to try and save our youths of today, we have to look at marijuana use as a misdemeanor now. Have some laws passed that possession of a certain amount is allowed and a fine instead of a court appearance. This will also free up a lot of prison space and save the government hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes, caught with pounds and pounds of ganja, and cocaine and guns and ammunition, with a cartel assassin on a canoe used for transshipment. Poor little Johhny must have been a victim of unforeseen circumstances; just a harmless pot smoker from West Bay…he just operated the radio, or refueled the starboard engine…spare us please.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Legalize weed and let half of them out. #nobrainer

    • Anonymous says:

      Then you support them and their offspring. What’s your address? Or just give it straight to the prison because they have no ambition. If they did, they would be productive members of society and wouldn’t want to engage in smoking to the point it reaches prison.

      I know there are professionals that abuse drugs. It’s just they are either smart enough not to get caught and remain productive members of society or only get caught in white collar crimes to fund their habit.

    • Anonymous says:

      You should sign your name: Nobrainer.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Regardless of whether or not the drugs themselves are legal or not, the addiction to these substances propels both users and dealers to violent acts to support these habits or to maintain their criminal career choice. 43% of Northward. Moses wants to build an airport, lease Cayman Airways $300mln worth of shiny new toys, press ahead with some deep sea piers, pave roads for private builders that haven’t yet submitted plans, but we have no social assistance cash for drug rehab, vocational training, contraception programs, prison-expansion, child support problems, meals on wheels, crisis center, etc etc. And we wonder why the multi-generational crime cycle is so entrenched here.

  11. Anonymous says:

    So in one day we have articles about underfunded welfare programs, underfunded prisons and underfunded seniors programs. Not to mention the underfunded unemployment programs.

    “Spending funds on the prison remains very unpopular in Cayman, as it is in most societies, since it entails cutting budgets in other areas to find the money, and therefore presents a risk to politicians. ”

    It doesn’t necessarily involve cutting budgets elsewhere. Had the PPM not cut $32m (per Minister Archer) per annum out of the tiny amount of taxes paid by the citizens of the country we could have funded all these programs in one fell swoop.

    Even more galling is that the majority of those “tax cuts” went to cut the “cost of living” for the wealthiest among us. I’m sure the drivers of 5 liter SUV’s and the owners of 40,000 sq ft homes are delighted to be saving thousands a year via gas and electric fuel duty cuts. Supermarkets and retailers meanwhile have delighted in the increased profits they earn from the cut to import duty for merchants.

    For as long as Caymanians are determined to pay as little as possible from their own pocket towards the cost of maintaining this society, their reward will be stories of crime, misery, corporate greed and crumbling infrastructure.

    “Taxes are the price we pay to live in a civilized society”.

    Oliver Wendell Holmes

    “Let all bear in mind that a society is judged not so much by the standards attained by its more affluent and privileged members as by the quality of life which it is able to assure for
    its weakest members.”

    H.E. Javier Perez de Cuellar

    “The moral test of a government is how it treats those who are at the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the aged; and those who are in the shadow of life, the sick and the needy, and the handicapped. ”

    Hubert Humphrey

  12. Anonymous says:

    What is the recovery rate at the drug treatment center Caribbean Haven?

    • Anonymous says:

      Similar to International rate. I have visited Caribbean Haven, the local halfway houses and AA/NA meetings and there are many testimonials from recovered persons who often praise Caribbean Haven as their first step in recovery.

      • Anonymous says:

        I have also heard many positive things about Caribbean Haven. Unfortunately, many of the people who end up in prison for living a criminal lifestyle and are also addicted to drugs don’t really want to stop what they’re doing. Caribbean Haven is a voluntary programme, if I am not mistaken, so most of the people who go from the road to prison over and over are probably not heading into voluntary rehab.
        Why doesn’t the prison mandate participation (and completion) in Caribbean Haven’s programme as a condition of release? If the prison is strapped for rehabilitation funding, why not use the resources that are already in place on island?

  13. Anonymous says:

    LOL! That can’t be true, we’ve never have a drugs problem on these islands have we?

    Seriously, this is just a smokescreen because the major drugs/crime issue hasn’t got anything to do with petty criminals in Northward. The real problem is with the well-connected families who live on profits from the drugs business and use these islands as a safe transit point to move the produce elsewhere. RCIPS should be joining with DEA and coming down hard on these people rather than worrying about making busts on the street for the odd spliff.

  14. Anonymous says:

    The other 57% was women

  15. Anonymous says:

    And 95% of parties use alcohol which is a drug, so by my high school logic, we need to ban 95% of all parties.

    I think some of things you buy at the market can also cause an inebriated state, so we need to also ban supermakrets.

    Does anybody see that education and letting people make their own choices will not lead us to a narco-state like it has not in other countries.

  16. Anonymous says:

    So if you legalize and educate instead of target and penalize, the problem will be solved. Other people in the world are realizing this is the way to go, but you need to repeat this message until the usual idiots that run the show get a grasp of that concept.

    Drug do ruin lives, but the real reason is from lack of control from bad parenting or cultures that do not educate how to responsibly eat, sleep, or entertain themselves and friends.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Listen, if you talk to any prisoner he was set up and he is in jail by bad luck. So I think that survey would be suspect.

  18. Anonymous says:

    Where is the drugs stats on the usage of drugs by prisoners, how many prisoners were tested for drugs last year? How many were tested this year? How are we tacking the demand from inside?

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