Full jail terms to be served

| 27/10/2014

(CNS): There will be no more unsupervised early release for anyone sentenced to jail with the introduction of a new law that changes the regime surrounding the treatment of offenders and their release. With no more 'get out of jail free' passes, all inmates will be required to undergo training and rehabilitation before they walk out of HMP Northward, and prisoners who satisfy the new release board will still serve the remainder of their sentence under strict supervision. No prisoner will be released before serving 60% of his jail term behind bars, and if deemed ready to return to the community, he will be properly supervised throughout the remaining 40% and any infractions will see offenders back in their cells.

The conditional release bill, which passed through its second reading on Friday evening in the Legislative Assembly, creates a new regime regarding how much time prisoners serve and how that times is managed. Replacing the parole provisions in the prison law, the premier, who introduced the bill, said it would result in a lower risk of re-offending.

Explaining the major changes in the bill, Alden McLaughlin, who is also the home affairs minister and responsible for the prison, said the law focused on rehabilitation and was aimed at reducing the country’s very high rate of recidivism. Cayman has a 73% re-offending rate, which is the highest in the Caribbean, and experts say it is because prisoners are released early without having undergone proper rehabilitation or training. They are released without any monitoring back into the exact environments they left before landing in jail.

“We are told by the police all the time that when certain people are released crime spikes and when they round up the set of people and they are back in jail there is fall-off,” McLaughlin said. He added that the current spike in crime was likely down to the release of certain prisoners and once the police have the evidence to arrest and charge them, the crime level will fall.

McLaughlin explained to his colleagues that the current early release system is not conditional on prisoners reforming and when released from Northward offenders are not monitored or supervised.

“Under this law no prisoner will be released without supervision,” he told the LA. “Ten years will mean ten years,” he added, explaining that at least 60% must be served inside jail. Then the prisoners will be entitled to appear before the conditional release board and if the offender has successfully completed rehabilitation and training, he will be released to serve his remaining 40% under a supervision order with the Department of Community Rehabilitation until the full sentence is spent.

McLaughlin said although people expected wrongdoers to be punished, government had to address offending behaviour and make a concerted effort to reform people before they are released because, despite a long history of attempts at reform, none had worked.

At present, most prisoners are released after serving two-thirds of their sentence, regardless of their state of rehabilitation and are not subject to any supervision. The premier said that in some cases prisoners can be released even earlier because they can appear before the parole board, where release can be granted after just one third of a prisoner's time being served, depending on the offence. If they are released 'on license', this is enforced until what would have been the early release date of two-thirds of their sentence. 

Under the new system there will be no consideration of release until inmates have served 60% of their sentence. McLaughlin said that in order to be released to serve the remaining 40% in the community under supervision, prisoners must be considered at a low risk of re-offending. 

He said existing prisoners will not be adversely affected or spend longer in jail because of the new law if their early release date comes sooner than the new 60% term.

The premier said that government had to address the poor recidivism rate to address the crime problem. He said that the police were criticised heavily for not doing enough to fight crime but while they might not be perfect, by the time the police are involved “a lot of other things have gone wrong”. 

He said he wasn’t going to "beat up" on the police or the civil service to satisfy populist sentiments and added that government had a duty to act constructively and address the issues, not pay lip service or sound off.

“Government is trying to do something to address recidivism and find a means for those who offend over and over again to get off that wheel,” he said.

McLaughlin said it was by no means the end of the story and it will not solve the crime problem but he described it as a major step and offenders will know that they will not get out of jail early unless that have taken part in a rehabilitation programme.

He admitted that the new regime would put pressure on the Department of Community Rehabilitation and he was very conscious of the agency’s ability to cope with the increased workload but he said that was not a reason to not do anything.

“I am painfully conscious of these issues but does that mean we sit on hands and not make an effort to change a system that not working?” he asked.

Raisinghis concerns about the civil service being the target of considerable criticism, he said that, like it or not, government would need to recruit the necessary staff in the prison, police, courts as well as the social service departments.

“We need these things,” he said, as he pointed out the pressing need to address crime and the social issues at heart of the criminality and the need to find the resources for the agencies dealing with the criminal justice system and social depravation.

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Category: Crime

Comments (14)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Northward is a joke its like a club of school friends hanging out all day drinking and smoking .

    those bad boys need to be seperated and sent away from each other perhaps to cuba or some other island

    We would save $ and the criminals will also be detered from doing crime when they get out.

    I know  some of those in northward are there by choice

  2. Anonymous says:

    But also safe better than sorry.  If not guilty no problem, free person.  otherwise keep them right where they are.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Unfortunately, rehabilitation in this definition, is just full time served.  

  4. Kadafe says:

    That's good that there will be no more unsupervised early releases anymore cause some of those jail sentences be too short from the beginning! 

  5. Anonymous says:

    Get a contract with cuba to take care of the criminals. We will save lots of money and those POS will come back ready to work and behave. 

  6. Anonyanmous says:

    All Foreign prisoners should be sent back to their country after they spend 25% of their sentence and their fingerprints, mugshots and DNA should be sent to Interpol, FBI and a worldwide crime site if one exists to avoid them ending up in other countries to continue with their crimes. We don't need to spend our scarce resources people that are not our own.

    • Anonymous says:

      Idiot. That would be sending the message that the it is OK to commit crimes in Cayman so long as you are a foreign national.

    • Anonymous says:

      How racist was that 08.41? So foreigners would be anyone without a British passport, this being a BOT. Sadly most of the prisoners in Northward carry passports from this particular BOT. The reality of your comment, therefore , was just a cheap racist shot.

      • Anonyanmous says:

        Why is it 10:44 that whenever suggestions are made that includes taking any action that would be beneficial to Cayman and the native Caymanian, people like you jump on the racist bandwagon? I agree with the comments of the poster ALL Prisoners that are not Caymanian by way of genealogy if they are convicted of a serious offence they should be deported back to their country of origin pure and simple it happens everyday in the USA, UK, Europe and the rest of the world, when Cayman decided to follow suit they will be in good company. Enough said, not racist just pro Caymanian.

    • Anonymous says:

      Ship them back immediatley on condition that their country of origin jails them, holds them to their full term as prescribed by our judicial system and if we judge accordingly enact the death penalty as soon as they step on home soil.

      Wishfull thinking.

      Both good ideas but unfortunately we'll bear the costs of the crimanal's incarceration, early release and a repeat of previous crimes or worse…and the cycle will continue over and over again to our detriment.

      By the way, what are your thoughts on our home grown talent?

      I suggest we find a true 3rd world Banana Republic that will take them for 100 dollars per head and do whatever they hell they want with them.





    • Anonymous says:

      You are so right especially when those very same scarce resources can be better spent in casinos.

    • mythshatterer says:

      Check the judiciary cause lists and tell me how many you are going to deport?

      Hmm, slight change of mind.

      Back to plan B? Incarceration for those with the wrong accent or can only prove up to 2nd generation indigenous? Or something else equally xenophobic?

      As for scarce resources being used up, well even if this could make a saving, this would only be "unaccounted for" or accounted for in a casino slot machine frenzy somewhere.

      Either way, the people who need it still would not see it.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I wish the law would also insert a few notes for the Judges that these repeated criminals who come in their courts are put behind bars until the day of sentencing. They have no rights to be released into the public to vandalise and rob during time waiting to be tried for previous robberies. Just how much times must these repeated criminals be allowed to roam from district to district carrying out vicious robberies? Please do something! Descent citizens work hard and long hours to provide for their families, only to be robbed and live in fear. We need to take our country back before we are a lost generation! May God help us all!