Prison population rising

The prison population at Richmond Hill, St. George’s is 8 persons short of reaching the magical 500 figure for the first time.

The high court was told as of 6:00 a.m. on Tuesday, December 18, the number of inmates at the island’s lone prison facility was 492.

The startling revelation was made by Superintendent of Prisons, Derek John during the closing ceremony of the October Sitting of the Criminal Assizes.

Supt. John told the court that was being presided over by Justices Madam Clare Henry and Margaret Price-Findlay that among the number of inmates who are confined at the prisons, 353 of them fall into the category of convicted persons made up of 350 males and three females.

The prison has seventy-eight (78) men and two (2) females are on remand.

Of this figure, forty-two (42) men and one (1) woman are awaiting trial, while 11 men are appellants.

The prison population is also comprised of four judgement debtors, and one prohibited immigrant.

Supt. John reported that there are eleven (11) juveniles at Her Majesty’s Prisons. Eight of the juveniles have been convicted, while three are on remand.

The high-ranking prison officials said although there is no place to house the juveniles, the young people are separated from the adult population during the day.

Justice Henry voiced concern about the contact that can be made with juveniles and the adult population at the prison.

Defense Counsel Ashley Bernadine said the issue of overcrowding at the prison that was built to cater for 200 people has always been a sorry situation at the institution.

Bernadine believes that erosion and lack of respect in the society can be attributed to people finding themselves in trouble.

As a practicing attorney for 20 years, Bernadine also voiced concern about the large number of juveniles who get into trouble on the island.

He said the eleven (11) juveniles now at the Richmond Hill prison is by far too many, and this is indicative of the absence of fathers in many homes.

Justice Price-Findlay indicated that the hands of judges and magistrates are tied since they have no alternative place to send young people who come before them as law-breakers.

She said it is a troubling situation for the island in light of the fact that the male population that often appear in the prisoner’s dock before them are getting younger.

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