(CNS): With the help of experts from the UK, HM Cayman Islands Prison Service has introduced a new Independent Monitoring Board to oversee conditions and treatment of inmates held in custody at Cayman’s various facilities. Tasked with ensuring that prisoners and detainees are treated humanely and fairly with access to sufficient purposeful activity, the board will also be responsible for ensuring that rehabilitation programmes are adequate to prepare them for release.
It will be independent of government and report to the deputy governor, the director of prisons or the home affairs minister, where relevant, officials said.
According to a government press release, Tara Rivers, the minister responsible for prisons, welcomed the new supervisory board. “The new monitoring framework will hopefully result in the provision of critical feedback on the performance of the prison service as the IMB will be considering a variety of things, including whether the required standard of decency is maintained, if policies and procedures are being followed, the manner in which the facility is operated and resources and programmes dedicated to the rehabilitation of those in custody.”
She said that government was investing in prison infrastructure, operations and programmes to help prepare inmates for release and reduce reoffending.
Rivers accompanied Governor Martyn Roper when he visited Cayman’s prison, HMP Northward, this week, where he met with Interim Director Steven Barrett and his team and learned about the challenges that the staff and prisoners face. They also met members of the new IMB and trainers from the UK, who were in the Cayman Islands to help set up the new corrections monitoring mechanism.
“I was very grateful that the minister could accompany me to explain some of the plans the government has for HMP Northward and other correctional facilities. I am delighted that the IMB will soon be able to start work,” he said. “This is a very important role within our community and I commend the group for coming forward to ensure that prisoners’ rights are upheld and that their treatment and management is fair.”
The governor was given a tour of the High Risk Unit as well as other parts of the prison, many of which remain in an extremely poor condition, despite efforts over the last two years to improve the ageing facility, which Barrett and his predecessor have both said is in desperate need of replacement.
The training of the board members, which was paid for by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, has been led by Sue Bird and Deborah White, who have more than 20 years’ experience working with the UK Independent Monitoring Board.