Holland closes jails, Northward packed to capacity

| 18/05/2016 | 19 Comments
Cayman News Service

HMP Northward

(CNS): As the Cayman Islands director of prisons battles with serious overcrowding at HMP Northward and the highest number of female inmates at Fairbanks prison for many years, the Dutch government is planning to close empty jails and the UK has announced a series of reforms that will see inmates tagged and sent home during the week. Cayman is spending more than $10 million per year on housing prisoners, a figure that is set to rise sharply when the new Conditional Release Law comes into effect, which the director fears will result in an increase of inmate numbers.

The UK government has announced a massive shake-up of the prison service, according to reports today in the British press.

In contrast to changes here in Cayman, which will see prison costs soar and may well leave people languishing in jail for longer periods, British Prime Minister David Cameron said his government “sees the potential in everyone” and the long-overdue prison reform means they will no longer “be warehouses for criminals”.

As well as tagging inmates and sending them home, the UK will create “reform” prisons focused on training, rehabilitation and education and will publish statistics and league tables on post-release offending and employment rates.

Meanwhile, in the Netherlands, five more jails could close down in the next few years, reflecting the falling crime rate across the country, where eight prisons were shut last year.

Crime has fallen by 23% in Holland over the last seven years and the declining incarceration rate is partially the result of the government’s push to cut the prosecution of victimless crimes. In recent years the country has leased empty prison cells to house inmates from other European countries to keep prison service staff in work.

However, here in Cayman the passage of the Conditional Release Law means that inmates will not be allowed to leave jail early simply for good behavior. Prisoners jailed for twelve months or more are now required to serve 60% of their prison term before they can even be considered for release.

That consideration will be based on the level of rehabilitation and potential for re-offending. If the new Conditional Release Board does not believe that an inmate has received sufficient education, training or other rehabilitation for their offending, then no matter how well they behaved during their term, they will not be released until either the full term is served or the board feels they are rehabilitated.

Prison Director Neil Lavis has warned that this will increase the prison population at a time when HMP Northward is bursting at the seams. The prison already has a shortage of both officers and of secure suitable accommodation, and despite concerted efforts to improve, renovate and rebuild areas of the jail, HMP Northward remains a condemned and desperately overcrowded facility.

It is also unclear how much more cash, if any, the prison will get to introduce the rehabilitation services now needed to help inmates reach the new requirements for early release.

During the recent prison open day, both prison staff and inmates spoke about the inconsistency and hit-and-miss nature of rehabilitation services and training. The prison admitted that security constantly takes priority at the packed prison over classes and rehab sessions.

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Category: Crime, Europe, Prison, UK, World News

Comments (19)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Decriminalize possession and use of small quantities of ganja and see how that will reduce prison population. More space for real criminals!!

    • Anonymous says:

      Most of them are in there not only for possession and use. But theft because they can’t keep a job and need to facilitate their habit with whatever way.

    • George Roper says:

      This approach is currently in place in a number of other countries and seems to be working but the way the system here is set up “as you sneeze you gone prison.”

      George Roper

    • George Roper says:

      How dare I say crime is just a mega money making enterprise for the already wealthy corporation like LOGIC, CUC, FLOW, CWC, FOOD SERVICE PROVIDERS and the large # of expat officers working in the prison service and police force. ..suck I almost use the phrase hidden agenda.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Finally, some clear evidence that using prison as a punishment for crime is a medieval practice founded by sadistic people who believed in owning slaves. Prison should be only to protect society from the truly dangerous people and all other law breakers should be rehabilitated. That is what an advanced civilized society should think.

    We need to stop putting people in prison for drugs and other non violent crime. We recently sentenced a highly educated person to many years in prison for doing something despicable. I agree that what he did was harmful to others, but prison? Prison means that we have to pay $50K per year to punish him. But I don’t want him to be punished, I want him to be rehabilitated.

    His crime did not change that fact that he is highly educated and he can be still be very useful to our society. So why are we throwing away people into a prison when we can help them? As an example, we can double his sentence to be an obligation for him to live a limited wealth and travel ban lifestyle and spend his sentence using his education to help those that he harmed. Doesn’t that make more sense?

  3. Anonymous says:

    Holland has taken a very ‘out of the box’ / liberal approach to victimless crimes that requires significant political will. the first thing they did was view drug addicts as exactly this and so they implemented supervised injections sites (SIS) that house addicts and also have a brief admittance facility where specially trained persons administer small dosage of drugs to addicts to ease the pain of addiction. by doing so prevents acquisitive crime such as robbery and burglary as these addicts no longer have to do this in order to feed their addiction. by doing so immediately saw a drop in these crimes. this takes a lot of political will and public acceptance. I am not sure if this would be accepted here but I personally visited there in a professional capacity a few years ago and it works.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Can we arrange to have the prisoners put in the middle of the desert somewhere or under the sea or on a barge in the middle of the ocean similar to Alcatraz?

    • Anonymous says:

      Better still, send them back to Jamaican prisons just like the old days. That was a real deterrent to crime.

      • Anonymous says:

        “Send them BACK”????? 90% are born and bred Caymanians so we can only send them back to West Bay, Bodden Town, East End and George Town.

        • Anonymous says:

          Sorry, forgot Mac gave them all status.

        • Anonymous says:

          Actually a very substantial number are not “born and bred Caymanians” – if that term means they were born in Cayman to a parent who was Caymanian at their birth.

    • Anonymous says:

      Cayman Brac

  5. Casey says:

    “Crime has fallen by 23% in Holland over the last seven years and the declining incarceration rate is partially the result of the government’s push to cut the prosecution of victimless crimes. In recent years the country has leased empty prison cells to house inmates from other European countries to keep prison service staff in work.”

    Bravo to Holland! We should follow suit!

    Why would anyone believe that spending 10M a year on prisoners is warranted!?!?

    • Anonymous says:

      Before you celebrate the drop in crime dont forget that they changed the definition to not include some. So you have to see a drop in crime if you are no longer calling those criminals. If cayman used that same definition then you would see a big drop as well as there are numerous individuals there for smoking pot and other drug related crimes. My problem in cayman is releasing those into an environment where there may not be jobs or that they are branded in such a way as to not be able to get jobs.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Send our prisoners to Holland! They may like it over there so much, they may never come back! yay!

    • Anonymous says:

      It works out perfect. More than half of them are in jail for smoking weed anyway. Why not send them to a country where it is freely available and they can happily live their lives over there once they have served their time.

      That way Cayman can ease up the jails for real criminals. The criminals that are sent to Holland will stay there because it is the lifestyle they want to live and the Cayman criminals won’t be let out in Cayman society going on social services because they can’t get a real job.

      Cayman’s jail problem solved.

      Win win.

      • George Roper says:

        For over 3 years I have been pushing for alternative employment for ex-offenders so they can have something to do when they are released from prison, it’s simple provide jobs and minimize the chances of re-offending.

        • Carol Cooper says:

          George Roper, we pay sanitation workers to walk along and pick up trash from the side of the road. Cayman should be the cleanest place in the world as we have a captive audience sitting all day with nothing to do! Form road and beach clean-up crews. Assign random areas for cleaning and beautification, work provided and paid for by the various authorities. The money earned could go to court fines, family and children concerns, and so on. But the best of all, with regular employment, people learn how to go to work and not idle all day. A few trucks, a few officers and cleaning equipment would be all that would be needed. Also to fix and repair properties for seniors in the islands! We need to thnk outside of allof the boxes!

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