Trinidad: Prisons identify inmates eligible for early release

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Trinidad: Prisons identify inmates eligible for early release
Justice Lisa Ramsumair-Hinds.
Justice Lisa Ramsumair-Hinds.

(TRINIDAD NEWSDAY) – A list of categories of prisoners who are eligible for early release has been completed and sent to the registrar of the High Court, the Police Commissioner and the Director of Public Prosecutions as part of the State’s measures to mitigate the spread of covid19.

A status hearing of the application filed over the weekend by Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi was held on Wednesday by video conferencing.

Justice Lisa Ramsumair-Hinds is presiding over the application, which seeks to get information from the prisons, the police, the Children’s Court and the Director of Public Prosecutions to determine which prisoners would be entitled to early release.

So far, the lists relate to the six categories of prisoners – who include men, women, and children – who may be able to have their sentences commuted; were sentenced to less than a year; are serving default sentences because they could not pay fines; were unable to access bail, including those who were convicted and are awaiting appeal; and who are entitled to remission by the prison.

Also included are those serving time for not paying child maintenance.

Ramsumair-Hinds was told the lists were sent to the registrar, the police commissioner and the DPP in keeping with the order she granted on Sunday.

The police and the DPP are expected to give the court information or documentation onthe names of those on the prisons’ list before a final determination on the next course of action.

Among the options identified by the State in the early-release exercise are granting bail; a remission of sentences by prison authorities; discharging child prisoners; or a presidential pardon.

Another hearing is expected to be held on Saturday.

The State’s application was deemed urgent because of the record number of covid19 cases globally, which is over a million.

Those who will not benefit from an early release are those on gang charges; charges under the Offences Against the Person Act, such as murder, drug trafficking, kidnapping, sexual offences, terrorism; and those charged under the Firearms Act.

Representing the AG are Fyard Hosein, SC, Ravi Rajcoomar, Jerome Rajcoomar, Aadam Hosein, Tenile Ramkissoon and Ryan Grant. Appearing for the prisons commissioner is attorney Netram Kowlessar. John Heath appears for the registrar, Christian Chandler for the police commissioner and Sharlene Jaggernauth for the Children’s Authority.

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