Problems persist for vulnerable prisoners
(CNS): An independent watchdog that monitors the local prison system repeated in its recently released annual report for 2021 that there are still no facilities or spaces specifically designed for inmates with mental health issues. Mental Health. With no dedicated accommodation for vulnerable inmates at HMP Northward or HMP Fairbanks, inmates with mental health issues and other at-risk inmates live alongside the general population in cells that remain unsuitable for human habitation.
Provisions for prisoners with disabilities are also lacking, particularly in Northward, the Cayman Islands Independent Supervisory Board (CIIMB) has found, and several key facilities are only accessible by stairs, including the prison chapel.
The report also documents a weakness in psychiatric services, which has not improved since last year’s report. Prisoners known to have mental health issues are said to have caused serious problems with other inmates and they had to be moved to the high-risk unit, which houses prisoners who pose a security risk and is not designed for prisoners with mental disorders.
As previously stated, counsel remains concerned that this unit “is being used as a place of detention for the most vulnerable detainees instead of a specialist unit”. The council members asked the prison director to inform them when and how this issue would be resolved.
The government is currently looking for consultants to build a new prison and a procurement exercise is underway. currently in progress for architects to design the new estate on the HMP Northward site and adjoining Crown land. This is based on a business case conducted by consultants for the Home Office, which remains secret. The CNS has repeatedly asked officials to see this document, but these requests have been denied.
Meanwhile, while acknowledging that some progress had been made in improving conditions at the women’s prison and early release unit, the board noted a significant number of issues relating to the condition dilapidated property of HMP Northward.
The council also pointed to the inadequacy of rehabilitation services for women in Fairbanks. While programs have been expanded at HMP Northward, where men have access to a wide range of different training and education courses, women’s access is considerably more limited.
“The Council remains concerned that prisoners at HMP Fairbanks still do not have the same variety of meaningful activities to choose from as prisoners at HMP Northward,” the report said. “Classes are far fewer and prisoners still complain of inconsistencies and frequent cancellations of scheduled, short-term classes.”
Prisoners in the north have access to certified courses through the National Center for Education and Research in Construction (NCCER) and Inspire Cayman which leads to a qualification, which is still not available to women in Fairbanks, where only a cosmetology course is offered.
The council said that throughout 2021, COVID-19 had had a significant impact on visits, as well as their own access to prison, the provision of training and education, and other support services. . The need to create isolation units for COVID-positive inmates has strained already insufficient prison accommodation.
The council was established by the Governor and rolled out in 2019. Its role is to monitor the conditions and treatment of those imprisoned, incarcerated or otherwise detained in the Cayman Islands to ensure the humane and fair treatment of those held in custody on sight and the range and adequacy of programs and other arrangements preparing them for release.
See the full report in the CDS Library.