About 369 inmates are currently on remand at the Bordelais Correctional Institute (BCF), 358 of whom are men and 11 women.
This is the latest figure, according to a new group – Remand Justice – which is calling on government to correct this issue.
Former Acting Director and Deputy Director of BCF and Committee Member of Remand Justice, Augustus Small, said this figure is alarmin, and unless something is done now, the situation can worsen in years to come.
Small told a media conference today, July 31 that these figures represent a 58.2 per cent of the total inmate population that are on remand and 45 per cent on approximate recidivism. He said these are persons who tend to end up in jail, just after their release, for committing another crime.
Of the current inmate population of 634, the group said all are serving criminal sentences. Additionally, about 34 inmates have been on remand for five or more years.
One male inmate has been on remand since 2001 for causing death and stealing. Small noted that the average age of inmates at the BCF is somewhere between 17-25 years and approximately 70 per cent of the total inmates are young people.
The former director said the issues could only be corrected if the government sees to it that the facility serves its true purpose. That is to make the rehabilitation programme more successful. He said this could assist these men and women to reintegrate with society.
Small, who is also a director at Monroe College and lectures in the criminal justice degree programme, said it is the responsibility of all Saint Lucians, inclusive of government, to protect, secure and rehabilitate persons convicted of any criminal offense.
“It is important to all of us, they are our children, fathers, brothers, cousins and friends…it is not about throwing them in and throwing away the keys.”
He said the facility was built to accommodate 450 inmates. The government of the day, which was the Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP), had given its assurance that rehabilitation of inmates will ensure that the facility is not overcrowded. However, at present this is not the case.
Meanwhile, Small noted that the government allocated $10.9 million to the BCF this year, which is $1 million short of the 2013-2014 allocation. He said $7.9 million was allocated for wages and personal emoluments, while $1.2 million was allocated for food.
The average cost of maintaining a prisoner is $12.75 per inmate. “We feed these persons, we have to take care of them, you and me who are working,” he pointed out.
In quoting figures from the BCI, Small said the population growth in January moved from 588 to the last recorded figure in June, which stood at 631. Growth is higher on the remand side.
The district inmate intake for June 2014 shows that 43 inmates were admitted. Out of this number, recidivism stood at 48.83 per cent alone in that month.
“It is not about trying to get people who have committed crime out; it is about ensuring that we as a people give people other chances,” Small concluded.
Meanwhile, Committee Member of the Remand Justice Group and Consultant Pathologist, Dr. Stephen King, echoed similar sentiments, saying that the sooner government realises that the problem lies with them improving the rehabilitation programmes, then it will help to address the overcrowding and other issues that stem from criminal activities on the island.
Dr. King said the group, which includes lawyers, doctors, educators and other professionals, met with government recently to discuss several action points towards addressing issues in the justice system, by way of creating change in society for the betterment of the island.
While noting that the meetings with these officials were fruitful and the group’s concerns were taken into consideration, Dr. King said it is time for immediate action.
The action points of the group includes: looking at an immediate activation of a second criminal court, seeking to have a master for case management appointed, review existing remand population and penal population with the view of reducing the population at BCF, increase revenue to offset increased costs for additional judicial services, process delays in forensic service among others and reviewing existing coroner system.