Juvenile lock-up in the works

| 06/09/2013

(CNS): The chief officer in the new home affairs ministry, which has responsibility for the prison, has revealed that a temporary facility is being constructed at HMP Northward that will help the Cayman government meet what were described as “the minimum requirements” in the country’s Bill of Rights when it comes to separating young offenders from adults in the prison system. Government officials confirmed Wednesday that around $1.3 million had been spent on preparing the foundations at the more sophisticated planned youth facility in Fairbanks but that project had been stopped because of budget constraints.

As a result of the introduction of a bill of rights and the accepted position that children should not be held in custody in an adult jail, or even at the same facility as adults, the government had set about creating a modern facility that covered a range of needs for the growing number of young people who are vulnerable, at risk or who have already fallen into the criminal justice system before reaching adulthood.

The previous government had planned to adopt the much heralded and successful Missouri Model of juvenile incarceration, but plans for that facility now appear to have been abandoned because of costs. Expected to cost close to $10 million to build and then several million per year to run, the government has been forced to shelve the modern facility, even though the foundations have been prepared and around $1.3 million spent already on plans, designs and the early construction work.

It is now just two months away from the deadline for when the government must meet the requirement in the Bill of Rights, and with the full facility abandoned, Home Affairs CO Eric Bush explained to legislators during a special sitting of Finance Committee on Wednesday that the ministry is constructing a new stand-alone facility at HMP Northward to house young offenders. 

“We will be compliant by November 6 with the separation from adult prisoners,” Bush told lawmakers. “Government had allocated funds in the temporary budget to allow work at HMP Northward for the separation of juveniles,” he said but noted that there would be no separate facility at HMP Fairbanks, where female prisoners are held.

Bush explained that, at present, there is just one young offender being held in HMP Northward. His colleague, Dorine Whittaker, explained that other juveniles have been detained elsewhere, such as the Bonaventure boys home and other secure homes, as the courts are now well aware of the problem of sending young offenders to the main prison. There are estimated to be around 35 young people in need of secure accommodation.

Concerns were raised by the independent MLA for North Side, Ezzard Miller, over the latest developments.

“It appears this is an arbitrary situation and I encourage the government to address this appropriately,” he said, adding that it was disappointing, having been told that the young offenders specialist centre was needed, that government was now scrambling to house young people who were in trouble, after abandoning earlier plans and wasting $1.3 million of public funds.

His independent colleague for East End, Arden McLean, also queried whether the construction of another facility at the main prison would work as Eagle House, the existing young offenders section of HMP Northward, has already lost its designation. This section is now being used to house category C adult offenders because of the over-crowded conditions at the main prison. He said that young offenders should be housed as far away from Northward as possible but predicted that it would not be long before the new add-on building would also be housing adults.

Deputy Premier Moses Kirkconnell agreed that this was not ideal but pointed out that the new government had inherited the problem, and the plan to build a stand-alone facility at HMP Northward was the best short term solution that government could come up with to meet the Bill of Rights requirement until it found a way to develop an more suitable centre on the Fairbanks site.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Build it bigger judging by the event that happened to me today as there will be more ready to be locked up soon. I was driving past three school buses of what looked like primary school children and one of the brats in the last bus threw an apple which hit my windscreen. The fright I received could have caused an accident or made me swerve and had there been a pedestrian there I could have killed them.

    Hopefully someone will take that brat in hand and show him the errors of his ways otherwise he is destined for the lock up

  2. noname says:

    A dozen cow cods would have been a cheaper and more effective option.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Cayman needs a functioning traffic enforcement department, a handful of tow trucks and an impound lot.  This would be a self-funding endeavour and would create the surplus needed to fight serious crime and build the much needed remediation facilities that never seem to get appropriate funding.  Most towns and cities in the world have traffic police. 

    • Buford T. Justice says:

      How would tow trucks and impound lots help fight crime again? The reason why, as you surmise, that most towns and cities have traffic police is for generating revenue for the department and to meet expected quotas. What the increased revenue is used for is another matter that is not wholly transparent. If ever the traffic police eliminates bad drivers, parking and other road and traffic law breaking, the law makers would make new laws to keep the revenue flowing. Seems silly, but don’t put it past the rulers. Unfortunately crime of any kind, keeps that part of the economy going. Think about it. IMO, your comments are about a different subject all together and so is mine.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Why not take that kid and send the other few to Jamaica or  UK to a real lock up. Depending on the act, can even consider honduras Jail. Then use that 1.3 million and put it towards facilities that keep them out of prison. There are about 20 juviniles that has the same chance as the other 3 thousands children in school. We can keep buying allthe band-aids we want, but just like cuts or bruises, they dont appear on the body without something causing them. One day I would really like to hear one daddy prisoner telling their children not to grow up like daddy inside a prison. Some people claim the world is out to get them and every chance they get they continue the criminal mentality. Cayman, dont demand that goverment spend money to build a bigger better hotel (prison). demand that they build facilities that will give the children passion for learning to keep them out. Let me give you and idea of an idiot. Everyday people smoking Ganja, this is almost true, but the responsible person will go somewhere out of public veiw and do what they have to do. Come out with a big smile and have a very good day at work. Then you have the idiots, smoking it as if to call attention in public and letting everyone know what they smoking, like we say begging for trouble, then police get involved, and take them to the lock up. ohhh they picking on me because im poor, because im black, because im white, because of this and that. then the public make a big fuss about one little spoil rass kid that we should build facilities to house him in. I am very well awre that some parents would like to see the police interact with their children in a tougher way, but as parents we have to pretend that we want to protect them even from the police. I know of parents that have locked up in the bathroom and called the police, only to have the police show up and tell the kid that his mother called and that he should be good to his mama and then ok ,bye you guys get all groupie huggie for the camera now. Cayman , please demand goverment to make a plan for alternative education in the Cayman Islands. Do not wait till the last expat has left us in the bucket here, we will then be the Island that time remembers "Bucket Island". 

  5. Anonymous says:

    Why should the facility be built away from the prison. Let Northward be the view out their window so they can see where they are going next if they keep up the lifestyle that got them in to juvi. In the first place. Treat the criminals like criminals.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Putting juveniles inside a prison with males actually is legal even? Why not build it outside, give them a chance at least, kids inside? Bad move already 

  7. 4Cayman says:

    How can $1.3m go wasted and it seems alright to just start over somewhere else? At a time when every penny counts for this country, we have leaders taking trips around the world at the expense of tax payers, million dollar CCTV that does nothing to deter crime  and the cost of living just keeps on climbing. 

    The more logic way forward would be to scale down the Fairbanks project since money had already been spent and try to get our young offenders rehabilitated……mr. Bush the more I hear of your statements in the press, I am believing you have a bag of excuses for all the ill made decisions made on behalf of the people's money.

  8. Raffael says:

    We need one specially for politicians for lying!

  9. Anonymous says:

    What disgusts me is this facility was needed long time ago, no juvenile should be with adult criminals.  Yet we give up approximaely 1 plus million dollars to a company to install CCTV and it was all wasted money.  XXXXX

  10. Anonymous says:

    Well that sounded like $1.3m well spent…….

    • Anonymous says:

      classic civil service wasteful expenditure….just like hurricane hilton on the brac…..

      • Anonymous says:

        Government aproves plan. Government abandons plan. But Civil Service blamed? Welcome to wonderland.

      • Anonymous says:

        The civil service does not decide on the expenditure. The damn politicians do. Hurricane Hilton is Mac's gift to Julianna to try to keep her on side. Stop demonising the civil servants.

      • Anonymous says:

        You obviously do not understand how government works. The civil service is not responsible for this. Your elected officials are.