Barbados: Female prisoners on the rise, new male offenders decline

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Barbados: Female prisoners on the rise, new male offenders decline
Her Majesty’s Prison in Dodds, St Philip
Her Majesty’s Prison in Dodds, St Philip

(BARBADOS TODAY) – The number of female admissions at Her Majesty’s Prison in Dodds, St Philip is trending upwards while the number of new male offenders at the correctional facility is declining, according to the just released findings of the latest prison report.

According to the 2016 annual report from the penal facility, female admissions climbed by 36.5 per cent while male admissions dropped by 7.7 per cent.

Despite the increase, however, the number of female prisoners, which stood at 86, trailed male admissions by a long way, with male inmates totalling 1,043.

Only 13 per cent of convicted females were serving sentences of five years or more while 42 per cent of convicted males were facing lengthy sentences.

The report showed that the majority of females were serving sentences for drug possession. However, the majority of females on remand were charged with more serious offences, including firearm possession, wounding, theft, murder and sexual assault.

During the period under review, 422 males and 28 females were released from prison, with the correctional facility registering a 13.3 per cent reduction in repeat offenders.

First-time offenders fell from 189 in 2015 to 164 in 2016, the number of people incacerated also fell from 927 to 913 inmates.

Since 2014, Barbados’ incarceration rate has declined from 328 per 100,000 people to 322 per 100, 000, even though it still represented one of the highest incarceration rates in the region, placing behind only Jamaica, the Dominican Republic and Trinidad and Tobago.

The number of non-nationals incarcerated during that period fell from 131 to 126, with 43 coming from Guyana – a decrease by five – and 36 from Jamaica.

The majority of non-nationals were charged with the importation and possession of illegal drugs.

Meanwhile, prison authorities are reporting a more efficient system, saving taxpayers $1,139,424 annually in maintenance costs, and the daily maintenance cost of a single inmate has dropped from $85.68 to $83.08

“It is internationally acknowledged that incarceration is an expensive exercise and as a consequence, the Barbados Prison Service seeks to establish value for money in its operation and performance,” the report said, explaining that it cost approximately $31,271.72 per annum to keep an offender in safe custody.

However, in 2016, it costs approximately $30,323.07 per annum to keep an offender in custody, the report stated, while noting that the figure did not take into account any additional expenses occasioned by services provided by the psychiatric and Queen Elizabeth Hospital, as well as the visits to the various polyclinics or private doctors.

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