Do you ever wonder what it would be like to spend some time at a five-star complex, complete with its own lake presumably well-stocked with fish, its own farm growing organic vegetables and rearing organically bred pigs and chickens with organic eggs a-plenty, laundry service, room service morning, noon and night, and easy access to drugs to help while (or wile, both are correct) away the hours, plenty of sleep opportunities, television during the daytime, indoor recreation activities like draughts and cards, outdoor recreation facilities in a secure environment, and lots of close-contact cozy company surrounded by like-minded residents, especially when you are using the in-room toilet facility conveniently placed by the grill that forms one wall of your accommodation so that all and sundry can enjoy, hear, see and smell your bowel movements?
Well, welcome to Bordelais by the Sea, Saint Lucia’s premier Recreational Habitat Center where life is a breeze. One would think, naturally, that such an exclusive facility would be pretty hard to join, but membership has never been easier.
Originally designed to host 450 guests occupying 450 beds, the Bordelais facility has increased its capacity by utilizing the 50 beds in the Segregation Unity and Medical Wing – yes, this five-star facility has its own medical wing with occasional visits by doctors and a dental surgery with even rarer visits by dentists.
Of course, the Segregation Wing, which was designed, believe it or not, to segregate residents that needed to be segregated from the other guests, can no longer fulfill that function as all the beds are occupied.
So Bordelais can boast an occupancy level that would make every other hostel on the island weep with envy. Every single bed is occupied all year round! Fantastic! The Bordelais Marketing and Branding Agency (BOMBA), otherwise known as the Saint Lucia Legal System, has done an incredible job of filling every single vacancy that pops up.
Actually, the truth is even more amazing than any fiction I could come up with: BOMBA has managed, through a cunning system of over-booking – just like the airlines do – to crowd in more customers than there are beds for. Let me explain:
Originally there were 450 beds, but 50 more were found, or rather misappropriated from the medical and segregation sections, making a grand total of 500 beds. The facility presently has an occupancy of – wait for it – 613, so somewhat surprisingly, there seem to be 113 people who have to go to bed without a bed to go to every night. Statistically speaking, 613 is far more than the 450 the facility was designed for, which means the facility has an occupancy of 136.2%.
But it gets even better because many of the residents should not even be there because they have never received a trial of any kind. Remember, this is not a matter of Right or Wrong, but a simple question of just or unjust, legal or not legal. Unfortunately, our legal system, which, as everywhere in the world seems less interested in Right or Wrong, but more interested in Guilty or Not Guilty according to the Letter of the Law, for the Law must always be upheld, is willing to turn a blind eye to the daily abuse of the remand system, which is, in fact, an abuse of the very Law that they hold so sacrosanct.
Of the 613 people languishing in luxury at Bordelais, 356, yes 356, more than half, are on remand awaiting trail; some have been there more than five years already. Put statistically, there is every reason to believe that 58% percent of the residents should be shown the door long before any trial date appears on the horizon! The law demands it! I believe the record for a dubiously legal remand period in St Lucia is 10 years. Imagine that! Ten years waiting in prison and still no trial! Every government for the past decades has been in daily violation of the Human Rights of hundreds of its citizens, which is one of the reasons why the world views the governments of Saint Lucia, in this respect at least, with disdain.
450 beds for 613 inmates means that one in every four inmates will have no bed to sleep on, unless he steals or borrows from the infirm or segregated. 613 mouths to feed instead of 450 means the cost of feeding clothing, housing and guarding increases by 36%.
Yet costs must be cut, we are told. The legal system must find a way to administer justice and not run a giant parking lot where undesirables can languish, rust, rot and decay until, like roadside wrecks, they are of no more use to society.