Remand population decreases

The struggle continues to turn Bordelais into a functioning “correctional” facility and not just a prison.

It was the last jail report before Justice Kenneth Benjamin resigned his position as head of the Criminal Division of the St Lucia High Court.  Justice Benjamin will be taking up the position of Chief Justice of Belize in September and has been replaced with Justice Francis Cumberbatch.

Known for his no-nonsense but compassionate attitude, Justice Benjamin is famous for being a locomotive on the bench.  His mandate has always been to deal with as many cases possible in one day, even though sometimes it meant he seemed glued to the bench for the entire day.  Though he heard the grumbling of the lawyers and court staff, he always made it a point during his addresses at the beginning and end of every court session to emphasize the backlog plaguing the Criminal Division.

Justice Benjamin has served in St Lucia since 2007 and has been keen on administrative improvement of the court, and has supervised the improvement of case management and delay reduction procedures in St Lucia’s Criminal Justice System.

Justice Benjamin’s efforts, though they are not always publicized, has been paying off as is
evident by the July 2011 Bordelais Jail Report.  It was presented at the High Court on July 14 by the Assistant Director of Administration Patrick Arlain.

He stated that currently there are 522 inmates at the Bordelais Correctional Facility.  When the Deputy Director of Corrections Victoria Alcide presented the last report on April 19, 2011, that number stood at 544.

Of the current number of inmates, 318 are Penals while 204 are Remands.  There are 316 male penals including two condemned inmates. The male remands total 201 including: Committed for Trial in the High Court, 114; Committed for Trial in the Magistrate’s Court, 53; Awaiting Sufficiency Date, 33; and one is in custody pending the results of an application made by a foreign country under the Backing of Warrants Act.

There are two female penal and three females on remand: 2 committed to trial after a Preliminary Inquiry and one is awaiting trial in the magistrate’s court.
In comparison to the last report, the penal population has increased while the remand population continues to decrease.  The male penal population increased from 309 to 316 while the male remand population decreased from 236 to 201, a 14.83 percent decrease.

The number of inmates remanded for serious offenses are as follows: Murder/Causing Death, 72; Attempted Murder, 5; Firearm/Ammunition, 11; Unlawful Carnal Knowledge, 11; Rape, 15; Indecent Assault, 2; Grievous Harm, 5; Robbery/Burglary, 15.
There are sixteen foreign-born inmates at the facility; Barbados, 1; Dominica, 1; Trinidad and Tobago, 2; St Vincent, 7; Guyana, 1; Jamaica, 3; Africa, 1.

From January to April, 197 were admitted to the facility.  From January to July 2011, a total of 337 inmates have been admitted.  From April to July, 140 inmates were admitted to the facility.

On the number from January to July, there were 170 first offender and 167 recidivists.  Calculations put the recidivism rate at 49.55 percent for that period.  It is an improvement on the rate for January to April which stood at 53 percent.

Inmates suffering from mental illness stand at 60.  Six of those inmates are being held at the court’s pleasure and twenty-one are serving life sentences.

Although Alcide reported in April that most of the Closed Circuit Television cameras have been installed on the farm and elsewhere throughout the facility are operational,
work is ongoing to correct minor technical problems.  In July, Arlain told the court, “The Closed Circuit Television cameras are installed with a few teething problems which are now being ironed out by the technicians.”

According to Arlain, there are still some concerns with the length of time that inmates spend on remand before their matters are dealt with.

In her last report, Alcide lamented that as with previous reports, Bordelais is still struggling in their efforts to rehabilitate inmates.  Arlain echoed her sentiments to the court in his presentation saying, “We continue to struggle in our efforts to rehabilitate the inmates in our care.  The services of a psychologist are urgently required since these professionals are key for the rehabilitation process.”  Their cries appear to be a fixture in every Jail Report presented to the court.

Meanwhile, the few rehabilitation programs the facility offers are recording successes.  The Education Unit at Bordelais is awaiting CXC results for twenty inmates who wrote the examination in June.  In an effort to better deliver the curriculum, special in-service training is provided to untrained staff.  Training focuses on such areas as lesson planning, testing and evaluation and teaching strategies.

Twenty six inmates are employed on the farm.  They are involved in crop and livestock production activities.  Inmates continue to be employed with projects such as the Farm Improvement Project-Farm Shed and Farm Road, the rehabilitation of the chicken pen and the biogas project.

In terms of skills development, thirteen trainees participated in the Caribbean Youth Empowerment Project (CYEP) which is being implemented by the National Skills Development Center (NSDC) along with the Center for Adolescent Renewal and Education (CARE) and RISE St Lucia. These entities have commenced technical/vocational training in beauty therapy, bartending, culinary arts, general maintenance and computer repair and networking for inmates.

Two of the trainees have completed their sentence and continued with the program.  In collaboration with the Ministry of Education and Culture, the facility is looking to expand the variety of skills training programs to include the likes of beekeeping, aquaculture, furniture making and softfurnishing.

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