Prison boss starts new job

| 24/06/2013

Lavis.JPG(CNS): The new prison director took up what is arguably one of the toughest jobs in Cayman on Monday. The UK corrections expert, who arrived in Cayman on Friday, officially started this morning and faces a facility that is in desperate need of investment and new policies. In the wake of damning report conducted last year by the UK’s prison inspectorate, which condemned both the prison itself and its management, Neil Lavis has a very difficult task ahead of him. The problems at HMP Northward, in particular, as well as the situation regarding juvenile offenders have all been well documented for years but the local authorities seem powerless to address the issues at the prison, which seems to fuel crime on the island rather than address it. (Photo courtesy of Cayman 27)

Lavis will be facing an overcrowded, poorly managed, under resourced and decrepit facility where rehabilitation, drug treatment and educational opportunities are still significantly lacking. The report described HMP Northward as barely fit for human habitation and described a shocking environment of mismanagement, drug abuse, bullying and violence, victimization, poor and inhumane treatment of inmates and a pressing need for significant investment and a radical review of governance structures.

Well aware that he has his work cut out for him, the Welsh prison professional has said that the report by the inspectors, which revealed a myriad of serious problems, will be his starting point but he will need to put structures in place so he can deliver on the report’s recommendations.

Describing the report as “a snapshot” of where the islands’ jail house is, Lavis told the local TV news station that the report lays out a clear action plan to move forward. “The first thing I’m going to do is make sure we have structures in place for delivery,” said Lavis in a brief interview with Cayman 27. "The HMI report is something I need to concentrate on but it’s pointless me focusing on that if there is no follow up.”

Lavis replaces Dwight Scott, who was retired by local authorities last year and comes in the wake of changes to the prison structure started by the Portfolio of Internal and External Affairs. However, with the changes to the government structure following the 2013 May election, the prison now falls under the new Home Affairs Ministry held by the premier.

Related article on CNS and UK prison inspectors' report.


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Category: Crime

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Welcome Mr. Neil;  a correctional expert is who is needed at Northward.  10:55,   If the country had the finances to build a prison on the Brac, there are far more pressing needs for that money, like mitigating the dump.   It seems obvious that upgrading the current prison would be far less costly.  

  2. Anonymous says:

    Welcome Mr. Lavis and good luck. Hopefully you will be able to weed out the weed (no pun intended) and other drugs that seem readily available in there. Hopefully you will get the cooperation you need to put an end to the corruption and transform Northward into a professionally managed detention facility. Best of luck sir.

  3. Anonymous says:

    prisoners will take advantage of situtations just like everyone else , so family or not if the person is not doing their job it does not matter who we get, hopefully this new director of prisons is different .

  4. Anonymous says:

    Well I guess this is the direction we are heading, next announcemnet Collector of Customs will be comign from UK as well.. 

    • Anon says:

      Hopefully yes, 12:24.

    • Anonymous says:

      God i hope so, have you actually been to the airport on the weekend when the flights come in and people walk throuh nothing to declare with massive TV's and bags having only been away from the weekend, all these people are doing is steeling from their fellow man… We need more money to flight crime, prisons etc, maybe customs could actually just collect what is owed, not increase the rates on the peope who do the correct thing, slighly off topic, but you raised it!

    • Anonymous says:

      God, I hope so. Anything to free us from the bonds of neighborhood incompetence and corruption we have suffered for a decade, and bring back some first world standards to what used to be a first world territory.

    • Anonymous says:

      12.24  you have to ask yourself a very profound question…why would that be happening?

    • Anon says:

      Probably you are correct. You cannot really expect any of these people who were Mr Carlon Powery's deputies to take over can you? Mostly very nice people but not in any way capable of senior management roles in today's civil service. Same problem exists in Immigration (Linda Evans came from outside) and Post Office (so did Sheena Glasgow). Who is going to be the next Chief Fire Officer -even the firemen dread the Caymanian logically in line to take over. These all Caymanian departments are staffed by people who left school at 17 and entered the civil service with very minimal academic qualifications and have just surfaced to the top. No real tertiary training. Nothing wrong with that-God bless them – but they don't have the academic weight and articulation skills to be senior managers in 2013 ( or even well before 2013). Caymanian is not a qualification, alas. I suspect poor old Mr Manderson would (very understandably) love to appoint Caymanians to all these senior posts but he is now so high up he is in the position of suffering if he puts a person in there who can't hack it. The buck comes back to him. It's called accountability and it is a wonderfully powerful management tool in the private sector………….but one that is often overlooked in the civil service where the object is to advance and preserve the interests of Caymanians, even when they are obviously not up to scratch.

    • Anonymous says:

      Perhaps but what do you expect when Caymanians do not equip themselves educationally to successfully manage these departments. It is my understanding that several Caymanians, with exprience in the department mind you, applied for the Collector of Customs position and miserably failed the test!  My observation as a customer is that departmemt is a managerial mess and I hope they do recruit a competent person to run it. I don't care if they are local or foreign. What matters is that the place must be managed properly.

    • Caymanian Voter says:

      I hope so!

  5. Anonymous says:

    like the police farce… locals working in prisons trying to control their relations/cousins doesn't work….

    welcome and good luck….

    • Anonymous says:

      lol. cousins, eh? Well most of the prison officers are Jamaican so I guess you are saying that most of the inmates are Jamaican as well.   

    • Anonymous says:

      The police and the prison are mostly Jamaicans not Caymanians

  6. Caymanian Voter says:

    Welcome and good luck. For far too long local families have protected these bad boys in prison by being soft and allowing drug criminals to excel in our community as long as they help their mammas, sisters, cousins. It is time we stop condoning these actions and the women of Cayman especially need to turn these bad boys in and not allow their favors.

    I still think a regional facility on the bract would be good for both economy and a deterrent for life of crime.

    The Isle of Wight in England has a thriving tourism industry and 3 regional prisons to support a local island economy at the same time. Maybe these bad boys van learn to can iguana meat for export?