Young offenders still jailed with adult inmates

| 12/08/2021 | 42 Comments
Cayman News Service
HMP Northward

(CNS): A new report by the Cayman Islands Independent Monitoring Board (CIIMB), which was established to observe the conditions and treatment of inmates within the local prison system, has noted that Cayman is still housing juvenile offenders alongside adult prisoners, in some cases with some of the most dangerous and volatile serving time in HMP Northward. In its second report since it was established, the board of volunteers detailed numerous problems in the prison, much of it due to the well-documented terrible condition of the current prison estate.

But the comprehensive report brings into stark focus some of the significant challenges Cayman has meeting its human rights obligations without a fit-for-purpose facility, given how many people the criminal justice system locks up each year.

“As it stands now juvenile offenders are housed in the same building with adult prisoners, in a separate annex of the building, however this doesn’t always prevent interactions between juveniles and adult prisoners,” the board found. “Also, during the lock-down period a juvenile was housed in the High Risk Unit (HRU) due to the dedicated juveniles annex being used as a COVID-19 isolation area. The HRU houses some of the most volatile and high risk male prisoners and the juvenile was placed in this same environment for over four months.”

The board also found that juveniles still do not have full access to structured support services, such as counselling, religious services, education and purposeful activities during their time in custody. The services are available but on an irregular basis because of the problems of trying to keep the young offenders away from the adult inmate population.

Another major issue, among many that the board highlighted, is the continued failure to properly deal with the prisoners with severe mental health issues, who pose a threat to themselves and to others.

“There is still no adequate vulnerable prisoner wing in either prison and the prisoners with mental health issues, or those vulnerable due to type of crime committed, are still incarcerated within the general prison population,” the board said. “Many of these prisoners seem to require specialized treatment, which the prison staff is unable to provide.”

At the time of the report there were 25 inmates on the list of the psychiatrist and that there could be others as well with undiagnosed mental health issues. “There is still no formal treatment for these prisoners… with mental health needs. The sole place available within the prison for emergency mental health watch is the HRU, which is used for punishment and segregation. This is by no means an acceptable alternative given the severity of some of the
mental health issues officers are expected to deal with.”

While “commendable efforts” are being made to improve living conditions at the prison, the board said that the concerns they raised in their 2019 report remained a concern. There are still many problems with the basic conditions, such as dustbin liners used as window covers or makeshift shower curtains and broken toilets that don’t flush .

“The conditions of the cells themselves are still a major concern and not fit for human habitation, as supported by previous external inspection reports,” they said.

Although HMP Fairbanks, the women’s prison, has been improved immensely, that facility still has some issues relating to the inadequate provision of rehabilitation services and purposeful activities.

The board acknowledged the efforts that are being made to improve the prison service but the report highlights myriad issues, including inadequate provision for disabled prisoners and a lack of consistent rehabilitation services. Prisoners who are being released also face major problems reintegrating into society, such as their inability to open a bank account and the challenges of finding work.

Dorothy Davis, a founding member of the board and the new chair, said it was important that prisons are managed in a way that respects the humanity of everyone involved because inmates don’t lose their basic human rights just because they are sent to prison.

“Through our monitoring and reporting we hope that we can help to help everyone know what is actually happening behind the closed doors of our prisons, which may be different from what they hope or expect. We also hope that our reports will help all those responsible to make improvements that will help prisoners to lead productive, crime-free lives after they have served their punishment,” she said.

Michael Ebanks, the acting chief officer in the Ministry of Home Affairs, said that many of the challenges for the prison and outcomes for prisoners were impacted by the current facility. “A number of the difficulties are related to the need for a new fit-for-purpose prison estate. As such, the ministry will continue to support the prison service in finding innovative solutions to some of the challenges that cannot be readily addressed,” he said.

This is an issue that has been raised by Prison Director Stephen Barrett on many occasions. He said he was pleased that the board had recognised the significant difficulties presented by the environmental deficiencies but had also fairly reported on the improvements and advances made. “The recommendations made by the CIIMB, and subsequent management proposed actions will drive the focus of our partnership going forward,” he added.

The volunteer monitoring board was established by Governor Martyn Roper, who thanked the members for the challenging and important work they have done to shine an independent light on the treatment of our prisoners and the conditions in our prison, advocating for fairness, decency and respect. 

“They are our eyes and ears, with unique access to our prisoners and critical opportunity to highlight where the welfare or rehabilitation of these individuals might be compromised.  It is a voluntary role like no other and I am delighted that we have such a dedicated group of individuals supporting us in this area,” he said.

See the full report in the CNS Library.


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Category: Crime, Prison

Comments (42)

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  1. jailaid says:

    The decline in number of youths in adult facilities represents a more general decline in the number of youths coming into contact with the criminal justice system.

  2. Lomart says:

    I wonder if the current administration would consider converting that large, new and mostly UNUSED multi-purpose building on the bluff in Cayman Brac. No one is sure what purpose it is intended for and the government has already EXPENDED those funds. Let’s make use of this building. Create the Juvenile Offenders lock-up facility. It is located on the compound with the best track and field facility in the Cayman Islands, together with a half-Olympic pool. All the exercise and outdoor activities right there on the site. This is not being said in jest. I wish that the premier and his team would give consideration to the re-purposing of this particular modern facility, Plus it would provide job for Brackers too.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Why is it that every time we have a problem the solution revolves around who is Caymanian and who is not?

  4. Not the full truths... says:

    It’s one thing to make changes and upgrades to both prisons… Now you just need the corrupt officers’ to get the adequate training. Instead of using their uniform as an intimidation tactic… This is a cute write up for the CI Monitoring Board, however, it is a lot worse than they are leading on about…

    To be continued…

  5. Anonymous says:

    Just blame everything on expats. Always worked in the past and Then you don’t actually have to do anything. Again.

  6. Anonymous says:

    One again, let’s get some feedback from the leadership of the previous administration as to why there was no meaningful movement to get these issue addressed.

    • Anonymous says:

      That is the past, how about the new leadership do something instead of playing the blame game?

      • Anonymous says:

        No blame game. Previous Governments need to be held accountable publicly. People forget the failures of previous governments within 4 years and vote them back in to do more damage.

  7. Elvis says:

    What the board always seems to forget is they are housed in a twice condemned prison by the uk inspectorate.
    Cayman refuses to invest in their troubled youth so they go to a condemned jail.
    Cayman refuses to invest in their mentally criminal insane and inmates with mental health issues so they go to a condemned jain.
    Everyone who works there deserves a gold medal .
    Shame on every single government since i came here in 1996.

  8. Anonymous says:

    The problem with prisons are that they are full of hardened criminals. Build a wing for the relatively few juveniles and give them a shot at rehabilitation and education. Then start putting the violent offenders away for twice as long as current practice. They were lost causes long before they got sent up. What the rehabilitation crowd thinks are successes are just criminals “aging out” of active criminality. Keeping them licked up longer gets you to the same point with less hand wringing and liberal guilt.

    • Anonymous says:

      Before we had our own prison, criminals were sent to serve their time in Jamaican prisons.
      The result was that nobody, but NObody wanted a prison sentence.
      Perhaps sending our offenders to Jamaica would be the best deterrent to crime.

      • Anonymous says:

        You literally just contradicted yourself. If ithey where deterred why were we sending prisoners there?

        Obviously serving time in Jamaica didn’t discourage criminality. consider the fact that we were sending caymanians found guilty of murder to Jamaica to sit on death row as late as the 60s if not later and some of those individuals got pardoned and came right back home and continued their criminal lifestyles.

        You clearly don’t know what you are talking about.

        Prison doesn’t deter criminal behaviour. The planet is literally full of prisons and crime is going nowhere so obviously it’s not the solution if deterrence is really the goal. You think all of the people in prisons right now didn’t know prisons existed? Think about it. People risk getting the death penalty everyday…where is the detterance? Use your common sense.

        • Anonymous says:

          Think of prisons as preventative – career criminals in prison are not breaking into peoples homes and businesses and they are not robbing people.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Sadly putting young offenders in with seasoned criminals is probably the only ‘trade school’ these young offenders will ever see.

  10. Anonymous says:

    We need to make it mandatory for the police and prosecution service to work with Immigtation to determine whether every single person charged with a criminal offence might be eligible for deportation after conviction. If a criminal is eligible for deportation it ought to be mandatory for our prosecution service to request a deportation order at the time of sentencing. That alone would reduce our criminal population and prison population by 20 – 30%.

    • Anonymous says:

      Yup. This issue is well known and well recorded. The failure to address it is either incompetence or corruption. Either way it is causing significant problems for Cayman.

    • Anonymous says:

      The vast majority of “foreign” criminals are already deported. Where there is a more complicated situation, due to a status grant, or marriage to a Caymanian, or responsibility for Caymanian children, there is a process to be followed, but those things do not translate to an automatic right to remain.

      However, this constant focus on deportation as a solution (and thus a narrative that the problem is all down to foreigners) is delusional. Nothing will change until the community takes responsibility and realises that the significant majority of criminals are not imported, but are created through poor (or worse) parenting, inadequate education and training, lack of effective social intervention, and an attitude to assisting the police which protects and fosters criminality.

      • Anonymous says:

        How much of the “poor parenting” is attributable to absent (and overseas) baby daddies? How is that not (in part) an immigration problem?

      • JTB says:

        I’m sorry I can only like this post once. Well said.

      • Anonymous says:

        It would be great to see statistics on the assertion that the majority of foreign criminals are deported. Last time I talked to a prosecutor I was told that neither the police nor the prosecution service had any idea of whether most people arrested were deportable.

      • Lomart says:

        Speak truth!

    • anon says:

      8.52am I think you are not far off the mark viz- at least 80% of our prisoners are Caymanian.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Why are we still third world?

  12. Anonymous says:

    Why are we letting Western European liberals rate our prisons? This are Criminals so let them live in substandard conditions. If you give them comfort they’ll reoffend with never a fear of incarceration.

    • Anonymous says:

      Yeah, because having a crappy prison has obviously completely eliminated reoffending in the Islands.

    • Anonymous says:

      You have a twisted perception of how we should treat people. You treat others like animals, they will act like animals. What we need is a prison that acts as a rehabilitation center, helping inmates in many ways so they don’t go down that path again. Countries with the lowest crime rates have systems like this: Norway, Sweden, Denmark etc. Whereas countries that treat their inmates like animals statistically have a higher crime rate: the US, Mexico, Jamaica etc. And it’s not liberal vs conservative, it’s just doing what’s right. I hate that everything is so left or right these days!

      • Anonymous says:

        1:37 pm, Your twisted.
        Norway, Denmark Sweden are by per capita wealthier and have a high standard of education that USA, Mexico and Jamaica. Your comparing an apple to a banana in trying to make your point. And “what’s right” is your opinion is not everyone’s “what’s right”. How do define ‘what’s right”?

        I don’t think my forefathers would want me or my family to spend our limited amount of time on this earth rehabilitating animals into law abiding citizens when we can enjoy it safely with them not participating. You should go find another home (planet) and spend all you life time on another persons problem there. Your life is short and precious so done waste it.

        • Anonymous says:

          It’s ‘you’re’ when not referring to something associated with the person you are addressing.
          Good day!

    • JTB says:

      Every inmate in our prisons, other than Jeffery Barnes, is coming out one day. Back into the community. Should we brutalise them or should we try to make them fitter for their eventual return?

      Maybe next time think for a moment before writing such ignorant, ill-informed claptrap

  13. Anonymous says:

    Unfortunately the criminal justice system here really doesn’t work.

    It’s constant catch and release of pretty much the same offenders. Often there are different generations from the same families.

    The prison is outdated and not fit for purpose. Unfortunately when people are looking at investment in infrastructure, prisons take a low priority. “Why waste money on criminals?”. The opposite is true. The prison should be a place of rehabilitation and opportunity, with the hardcore career criminals left in their own little area. These islands are too small to have such a number of convicted individuals constantly coming and going, and repeating the same mistakes.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Because Cayman is a fourth world territory with first world human rights!

  15. Bonnie Anglin says:

    The Report was not about Nationality, Read it again. Deportation is not our solution to our social problems.

    • Anonymous says:

      It is absolutely a solution for part of our problems. If we deport and permanently ban foreign criminals then the resources we keep spending on legal aid and imprisonment of such criminals could be spent on prevention strategies for young offenders.

    • Anonymous says:

      There is a substantial foreign element involved in many of these problems. We have easy solutions to those elements of them and are failing to exercise them. Why?

  16. Anonymous says:

    A new facility has been needed for years. Why can’t the non-violent prisoners be used to help construct one?

  17. Anonymous says:

    What a disgrace!

  18. Anonymous says:

    Why are we not deporting non Caymanian prisoners on release?

    • Anonymous says:

      Or just deporting them? Would have to clear up at least a bit of space.

    • Anonymous says:

      Thank you! It is ridiculous that there is very little effort spent on identifying every single criminal that is not Caymanian or can have their Caymanian status revoked for committing criminal offences. I know that they are not the majority but a little effort in this regard would make our community safer and would save a tremendous amount of money.

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