Cayman high in jail rankings

| 12/05/2014

(CNS): The Cayman Islands authorities are locking up a disproportionate amount of its citizens, according to the latest world rankings reflecting the proportion of prison inmates in 222 countries. Cayman has a prison population in excess of 180 inmates, most of whom are either serving or on remand at HMP Northward, which is bursting at the seams, making the country one of the top incarcerators in the world. The islands rank at number 27, with the equivalent per capita rate of 330 per 100,000 in the international league tables, compared to Jamaica which sits at 97, and England and Wales at 99. In the Caribbean region, which has a significant number of states on the list, Cayman is ranked sixth overall from 23 countries.

There are 16 Caribbean countries in the top 25 of the list, which was drawn up by the International Centre for Prison Studies. The rankings are topped by the US and the Seychelles, which both have a shocking per capita prison population rate of more than 700 out of 100,000 people.

Largely as a result of the war on drugs, which also accounts for the high number of prisoners in Caribbean jails, the figures come at a time when research reveals that locking more people up has verylittle impact on crime rates.

The US penal population of 2.2 million adults is the largest in the world and is around 25% of the entire world population of prisoners, while the country accounts for only 5% of the global population. The US rate of incarceration, with nearly 1 of every 100 adults in prison or jail, is 5 to 10 times higher than rates in Western Europe and other democracies. Based on the results of its study, the NRC calls the US incarceration rates "historically unprecedented and internationally unique".

More than half of the US prison population is black or Hispanic and come from "the most disadvantaged segments of the population". They are mainly men under age 40 who are poorly educated and often have drug and alcohol addiction or other medical issues. A black man under the age of 35 who did not graduate from high school has a greater chance ofbeing in prison than in the workforce.

“The meaning and consequences of this new reality cannot be separated from issues of social inequality and the quality of citizenship of the nation's racial and ethnic minorities,” authors of the the report stated.

The report finds that the crime rates have fluctuated over the past 40 years, and while they have declined overall, there is little correlation to the rise in sentencing rates.

"The tremendous increase in incarceration in the US does not reflect the fact that the country has become substantially more criminal or violent over this time," the writers point out. "The true explanation has more to do with politics and policy."

The war on drugs, mandatory minimum sentences and politicians promising to "get tough" on crime – these are the driving forces behind the incarceration numbers," the report asserts.

Although the arrest-to-crime ratio has remained largely the same over the past four decades, it has become much more likely that those arrested wind up in prison.

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  1. Slowpoke says:

    Amazing to see, that after reading this article, people are still calling for more imprisonment.

    Why do we have to take every worst idea coming from the USA and copy or exceed it?

    Also, I have been to Northward many times and I cannot imagine working there, much less residing there – it is no Hilton.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Crikey, sounds like a "You raise 'em, we cage 'em" deal for the RCIPS, which is utterly unfair. The job of the RCIPS is to enforce the law (determioned by society) and nab offenders – that's their role. It is not their  role to arrange and manage society in such a way as to diminish offenders. If anyone thinks it is they are seriously passing the buck.

  3. Anonymous says:

    We should not consider Northward a prison, but a long term retreat. Hitlon at Northward… room service is free> Olympic size pool will be built after the next riot.

  4. Anonymous says:

    well if they stopped breaking the law. doh.  is this the prisons fault too ????

  5. Anonymous says:

    We should aim to get to the top of the list by jailing more criminals and for longer

  6. Frank says:

    Maybe if Cayman didn't lock up every person that has a tiny amount of ganja in their pocket, they would be lower on the list. And while they're at it extend sentences for real criminals to stop them spreading their 'gangster ways' when they are prematurely released. 

  7. Anonymous says:

    Comapre that to sentencing for locals and incessant arrests of locals due to profiling, ease of arresting same persons?

  8. Anonymous says:

    This goes to show why the war on drugs need to stop. Drug addiction is a public health matter not a law enforcement matter. Tobacco is responsible for more deaths than illegal and legal narcotics combined yet is totally legal. But thanks to educational drives and legislation to deter smoking in public places,  America's tobacco usage is falling. Prohibition does not work, it didn't work in the 20s with alcohol and it certainly isn't working now. The esclation of gang violence in Cayman should be a testament to that.

  9. I must LAUGH says:

    Just google and look how is the prison in Brazil,Argentina and others, then you will realize that Cayman's jail is a Luxury Hotel to many countries.

  10. copy and paste says:

    Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami has called for the reform of a “broken” justice system, recommending sentencing reform and better prisoner rehabilitation to address problems caused by mass incarceration.


    “Government rightly establishes laws to protect people and advance the common good. But, the human and financial costsof mass incarceration are undermining the common good and do little to protect the citizenry,” Archbishop Wenski said in a May 6 opinion essay for The Miami Herald.

    “Rather than throwing away the broken, we should seek ways to rehabilitate and reintegrate them into the larger society.”

    Archbishop Wenski said the U.S. imprisons people at a cost of about $80 billion each year and has the largest prison population per capita in the world. In 2011, about 2.2 million people were incarcerated in federal, state, or local prisons. Some 7 million people were under some form of correctional control.

    He said that Hispanics are twice as likely to be incarcerated as whites, and as many as one in three African-American males could be imprisoned at some point in their life.

    Archbishop Wenski said these “shocking” statistics are due to mandatory minimum sentencing, increased criminalization of non-violent offenses, and “tough-on-crime policies that introduce youth offenders to the prison system at younger and younger ages.”

    Rigid sentences are financially expensive, he said, and harm “the good of families and communities,” adding that prolonged incarceration helps increase recidivism, family instability, and poverty.

  11. Anonymous says:

    These rankings mean NOTHING with a population this small.  The truth is, we are not locking up enough people as they are out robbing, stabbing, killing, raping and smashing up the island!  Is nobody paying attention anymore?

    • Anonymous says:

      Opinions are not facts. The fatcs are laid out in the article I suggest you re-read it.

  12. Anonymous says:

    180 inmates is down from the 200+ inmates at Northward in the past. Given the overall lack of law enforcement in the country I would think that prison capacity is one of the reasons for such lax enforcement.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Women lie, Men lie; numbers don't. :-/


  14. Knot S Smart says:

    In Cayman life is easier in prison than living and working on the outside…Not much deterrent there…

  15. Anonymous says:

    This has been stated for years but people wanted to do the norm and stick thier heads in the sand. We also have a high number of Police Officers per person on this country, but yet we also have a high number of semi violent and violent crime almost daily. Numbers do not lie. I also bet that half of the persons that are serving a sentence are there for Ganja abuse and low level dealing. The one's that are on remand, a large percentage will not serve a sentence handed down by a court due to poor Police and Legal work. Wake up and see what is going on. More lip service will be paid along with a high salary to go with it!!!!!

  16. Anonymous says:

    Cayman has made a good start. Double that prison population and crime would drop dramatically.

    • Anonymous says:

      Hi, do you really believe that crime would lower if we were to incarcerate more people. I think you would be surprised to know how many crimes are initiated from HMP. Criminals are still committing crimes from behind bars, I know, this sort of thing only could happen in Cayman.

  17. Anonymous says:

    The war on drugs deem to be the basis for the high incarceration rate in Cayman, then where is the strategy to combat the ellegal drug use in the prison. With all the increase spending in  the prison, why is there not a serious drug program to deal with the drug problem. We remove persons from the society for drug use and spread a table with drugs for them at Northward. Where is the serious effort to at least cause a reduction in drug use, instead all we see and hear is public relation gimmicks. It is time now to have a serious inquiry in the drug use problem in Northward and  we don't need no expert from overseas to conduct the inquiry. Too much money wasted on these so call experts and study.  We need to pull our heads out of the sand and appoint an independent group of person to look into the whole issue. 

  18. C'mon Now! says:

    I wonder where we would rank if the RCIPS could round up the other criminals who belong in jail. With my rough math we are 1/2 way to the USA and would be closer depending on the number that are on the loose here. Also do all of the guys running around with the ankle bracelets count or are they excluded?