Jail costs $64K per inmate

| 09/06/2014

(CNS): The controversial head cost of keeping people locked up at HMP Northward each year, was revealed at $64,231 per prisoner during the Finance Committee meeting on Thursday, when the director of prisons answered the questions about this year’s budget for the local prison system. Despite a slight decrease in the budget for housing inmates this year compared to last, the government will be spending over $9.7 million on keeping them in jail and over $7.2 million on support services. Neil Lavis, the prison boss, confirmed that there are currently 175 men and 15 women behind bars. Some of the prison budget allocations this financial year will also be spent on improving security and the rundown facilities.

Although some costs are increasing as a result of security upgrades, among other issues, Lavis has already cut some costs as he said feeding prisoners each day had gone down from $6 per day for three meals to just over $4.17 per day as he said the food bought by the prison was also supplemented by food grown on the prison farm.

Despite the prevailing misconception that Northward is more like a hotel that a prison, it is in fact in a terrible condition, with many parts of the prison old and run down. It was given an exceptional poor report after the most recent UK prison inspection.

Lavis said around $1.3 million will be spent in the coming financial year to upgrade the prison not just on improving the facilities but mostly on improving security. He explained that money will be spent on improving the CCTV system and the control room where the cameras will be monitored. He said more cameras would be installed to watch the perimeter fence and they would now be monitored around the clock.

The fence, which is currently rated as only a category three barrier, will also be improved. Lavis said an eight foot barrier of concrete, with a chain link top going up to 18 feet, will be erected around the internal perimeter fence to stop prisoners from cutting through the wire.
The prison director said that he and his team were doing their best to address the drug smuggling problem at the prison but he reminded the MLAs that drugs are smuggled into every prison in the world and it was a difficult battle to win.

He said that counselling was also being provided to prisoners to try and reduce the demand for drugs. Although there are no formal detox programmes at Northward, Lavis said that prisoners were not commonly addicted to hard drugs such as heroine requiring that type of rehabilitation or the replacement therapy associated with that addition,. He said the main drug of choice for inmates at Northward was ganja.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Here in the USA they also hand out $40K prison terms instead of $20K jobs for your $10 sack of weed. Good to know your leaders support organized criminals over the populace as well, cuz we have more people in prison (RIGHT NOW) than Stalin ever had. I sat once. Its barbaric. No less than torture. Some men go mad in there. 99% come out unrepentant that they dared to enjoy pot aka happiness “with” their poverty in the first place, lol. Most getof out and lit right up. Marc Emery did. So…we spent 40k X5 to teach him guitar? PRICELESS!!!!! LOL

  2. Anonymous says:

    They need to turn Northward into a White COllar prison, and export these present criminals.

    Right Joey?

  3. Anonymous says:

    How's this even possible 64K per prisoner per year ? I've been on the same job for 25years and i only  make 65K before deductions !  I need to join the prison service must be some real big salaries at the top ?

  4. Anonymous says:

    When government has to pay so much, and the costs are higher than a prosecutors salary, Something is clearly wrong here. 

  5. Anonymous says:

    Some of the guys sneak out now and then, thus saving us some money at least. 

  6. Shirley Smart says:

    Why not pay other countries to keep Cayman's prisoners?  They would do it for a lot less than $64,000 a year. 

  7. Anonymous says:

    The question should not be"How much does it cost to house an inmate"  it should be "How much would these hooligans cost the island if they were freed?"

    One murdered tourist would cost millions, one house break in alone could probably pay for half a year or more in losses.  The next question should be "how much would Honduras or Jamaica charge us tohouse the worst of our criminals?"

    I Imagine if the threat of violent crime was to be sent to a Honduran prison crime would dissapear……

  8. Anonymous says:

    Just look at that, for each criminal basically is being paid in living allowances $5,333.33 per month….. More than my salary i work hard to recieve, to just barley support a family of 5!!! Sickens me!!!

  9. Anonymous says:

    It's about par for the course, UK costs are about 56k, US costs are about 40k, seems like it would pay to repatriate some criminals if we could come to an agreement with the relevant countries to take them back and lock them up to serve out their sentance as prescribed by the Cayman courts.  So if they are doing 10 years and the usual time served with parole is 6 we offer the home country $100k to lock them up for 6 years.  Should save us some money and mean we don't have to spend out on buiding more jails.

  10. Maiden Plum says:

    Would love to know how many non-violent offenders, as well as ganja users are locked up.

  11. Anonymous says:

    The prison could actually MAKE money by having the prisoners do work.

    Mechanics, plumbers, welders, carpenters, farmers, cooks  can do repairs, make furniture, grow produce, food catering, run a restaurant.


  12. Anonymous says:

    utter madness, lunacy, insanity… better to spend this money on the schools and children and the future, thanon the delinquents who've made bad choices. jeezum peace.

  13. Anonymous says:

    175 inmates in jail.   some inmates could easily go home and do community service or stricter tagging, you guys dont have a mental problem on the island do you? no .. you know why? yes they are all being sent to jail. disgrace in itself. it costs the equivalent of 55,000 ci to keep them in jail in uk. we are not doing too bad then right? problem is you people are so miserableno mater what is done u will complain.

    • Anonymous says:

      No wonder the Scholarship Secretariat fight you tooth and nail to give you only $ 20k!!!! The prison needs more!!

  14. Grandfather Troll says:

    Thanks, CNS, for making the cost of prisoner upkeep public.  It's even more than I thought!

  15. Anonymous says:

    CI$64K is totally out of line. I have a suggestion to cut electricity costs. Connect dynamos to the exercise bikes in the workout area and have inmates ride to generate electricity. 


  16. Anonymous says:

    WTF is right!!!  The Ritz Carlton is a cheaper stay!  Let's not forget the weekly wage they are being paid just for being there!  What exactly are they providing to these prisoners besides food, a cot to sleep on and some prison gear?  As I far as I know, its the poor family members still have to bring in the basic necessities such as bath soap and toothpaste!     WHY does it cost so much to live in a cell when us hardworking folk live on less than that??? It just doesnt add up sorry…..

  17. Anonymous says:

    How much would it cost to send them to Honduras? Just a thought!
    This is completely ridiculous, some changes need to be made, maybe some of these guys can be put on work release Programs to earn their keep, maybe we should build a tent city for them. To live in and make them wear pink like the sheriff in Texas.! Oh and don’t forget this cost doesn’t include medical coverage!

  18. Casor says:

    Might sound stupid, maybe too many people are in prison. 

  19. Anonymous says:

    Send Them to The Brac!

    This could be an oppertunity to do several things all at once.

    1. Create employment in the Brac by building a new facility and staff.

    2. Increase traffic to the sister island as people will fly over to visit loved ones.

    3. Build the new facility with the bare minimum requirements; No AC, use well water, only give them the vegetables they grow. This will reduce operating cost.

    4. It will stop the drugs over the fence and give the prisoner an actual chance to rehab. 

    5. There will be no more escapees! unless they want to drown.

  20. Anonymous says:

    lol wait… so i break my back in school from the time i was 4 starting in primary school for about 15 years (currently ongoing in tertiary education) gaining my honours in high school and beinggarnished with other various acheivements like music and arts and such but i can only make $25,000 a year and struggle to get by with my landlord, CUC, WA, licensing, insurance, on the run, mother, father, aunts, cousins, girlfriend and bank (in no particular order) at my heels… while some low life nobody without ambition gets caught with some mariganja and is inadvertently making $64,231…

    yeah i know, freedom has no value, but for some people prison is better than being at home. like Chris Rock said "when you're living in an old project (ghetto), new prison ain't that bad."

    why does everything seem so upside down these days? 

  21. Anonymous says:

    I think when it’s all said and done if the figures are analyzed we would see that the ridiculous salaries made by the heads of HMP significantly adds to the cost of maintaining prisoners.

  22. pmilburn says:

    Send the NON Caymanians back to their own countries.We cannot and should not be allowing these numbers to continue to rise.I understand that we dont want to send a message to would be criminals that you will be sent home if you commit a crime here but if they are not significant in nature murder armed robbery etc then YES send them back.Something needs to be worked out with the mother countries of these criminals as we cannot continue to allow this cost to skyrocket.

    • Anonymous says:

      Actually, it would probably be nest to contract with a Cuban prison to take our expat prisoners.

    • MEM says:

      We'd still be left with at least 4/5ths of the inmate population, contrary to popular caymanian belief, our prisons IS mostly full of our own misguided Caymanian people.

    • Anonymous says:

      Great suggestion. Now what do we do with the other 99.5% of the prisoners?

      • Anonymous says:

        Easy fix – we revoke the status grants, then flog the 6 remaining Caymanians.

    • Anonymous says:

      After the schools, the prison is the next government entity that needs to be privatized.

  23. MEM says:

    THIS IS RIDICULOUS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! If they were free each one would make a salary of about 18,000 per year and have to live on it! This is absolutely, positively crazy!!!! The average middle-income family is making this, raising their kids, paying their mortgage and bills and buying food and CI Gov is housing criminals at almost CI$70K EACH PER YEAR!!! Twisted, twisted government! These men should be put to work! All this chat about flowers and their work permit, build a block factory at HMPrison and make the inmates make the blocks and sell them back to the community! What lunacy, this is an outrage!

    • C'mon Now! says:

      These guys would not be working if they were not in prision.  We are paying to keep them away from us.  We need to spend 1-way airfare for the inmate to send them back if they are not Caymanian, of course they should have a proper public beating as a deterrent before this happens.  It works in Singapore, they also execute drug smugglers there.

  24. Whodatis says:

    Construct a modern yet minimalist facility in a lonely corner on one of the sister islands to house our tried and sentenced detainees.

    That way we create an effective deterrent and increase the safety of the general public whilst remaining within the restrictions of international human rights.

    A bit of smarts combined with modern technology could really go a long way in this regard.

    • Knot S Smart says:

      Good idea!

    • Anonymous says:

      I know I've been having a bad day, but this tops it all. I actually agree with something Whodatis says. I'm going back to bed. 

      • Whodatis says:

        Yes … was just a bad dream! Lay down … dream … dreeeeam oh precious one!


    • NOT Laughable says:

      Take it one step further and make a regional prison that brings revenue. Brac is ideal. Not picking on the Brac either, the scenic touristy Isle of Wight (UK) is a model of success for HMP. Let's take lemons and make lemonade. Also, there also must be a way to control costs or put these souls to work (flowers blocks or rum cakes I don't care.)

      • Whodatis says:

        I think international human rights may pose a problem for the "regional" aspect of your proposal.

        There is something within that stipulates that the offender must be tried, convicted and punished within the same jurisdiction of the offense.

        Thanks for the feedback!

  25. Anonymous says:

    Ok so if it costs KYD$64,231.00 per year to keep an inmate in prison and currently 175 men and 15 women. Per year it currently costs CIG KYD$12,203,890.00 to house all of these inmates. WOW!!! These prisoners indirectly make a higher salary per year than at the very least 50% of the working population here. Can CNS please find out how much of these prisoners are locked up for Marijuana consumption? As the this article clearly statement the drug of choice to consume in prison is marijuana. Maybe the answer to that question will put things into perspective. Also does the KYD$64231.00 include all the time spent in court and policing time spent in getting the inmates into prison? I for sure do not want to foot the annual bill of prisoners that are in there for smoking marijuana and end up in prison smoking more marijuana for FREE basically. I work hard for far less of an annual salary. Decriminalize and regulate marijuana CIG a lot of money can be saved and put towards education!

    • Anonymous says:


      The whole island smokes ganja and there are at most 175 people locked up for it? Clearly enforcing the dumb law is not working either.  I mean the inmates smoke writhin the prison freely.  


      • Anonymous says:

        The whold island does nothing of the sort. I do not want the drug legalized. I am pleased this island has a restriction on where cigarettes can be smoked. I have asthma and do not want smoke around me. Nor do I want the smell and subsequent effects around my children. It is harmful to the lungs and destructive for the brain. Not everyone has the same reaction to it. Fromwhat I've seen on the island, it has bred a section of society, predominately the young healthy working class of society into lazy, illiterates. Example, you smoke and get high and so relaxed, you don't care for your responsibilities nor the progress of your children. The next set of children grow without the extra push and guidance and the cycle continues. Of course this is not all. If you look around, that sector of society is steadily growing. It is not restricted to the lower poor working class either.    You can see this with the wealthy and middle class and their strong young men falling prey. Women are also affected but the numbers are significantly smaller. 



        • Anonymous says:

          Legalize a decriminalize are 2 very different things my friend. People have the freedom to choose to do something weather it be legal or illegal. How much of our young working force are functioning alcoholics? How many dont smoke ganja at all and are still lazy and illiterate? The problem is not the marijuana. It is the education system! Lets not forget parenting…. half of these parents now a days have not a clue what their children are up to after school and on weekends. Everything you say bashing marijuana can be said about the legal substance alcohol, which causes more deaths per month than marijuana will ever cause in a decade and for those that have never smoke marijuana please dont comment on things you cant talk about from experience.

      • Anonymous says:

        Restricting them from the rest of the island and attempting to keep them away from access to drugs has not worked. I have another idea that will prevent them and anyone in the prison from smokinginside the prison. Oxygen. Have oxygen pumping through the AC vents when any of them light up kaboom!  Notify them of this beforehand, if they so choose to light up. Even a cigarette, then no more need for 65k a year for anyone. Problem solved with housing them. Unfortunately there will be casualties of the staff.  When and not if it happens. The deterrent will reduce the use within the prison for the next round and possibly reduce the numbers entering. 

    • MEM says:

      Wow, CI$12million a year on less than 200 people; now I wonder what the annual Budget is for Clifton Hunter High School and their almost 700 young people….

  26. Anonymous says:

    WTF?  That's pretty much all I can say!  Ah boy!   And with all the children that go to school without breakfast or lunch and don't even know if they're gonna get supper.  Maybe the prisoners should have to have fundraisers  and food drives to assist with their meals, jumpsuits, shoes, etc.  What is this coutry coming to?  God help us all!

    • MEM says:

      That's a good idea, the prison budget should be cut in half and the other half of the budget should have to be raised through fundraisers, bake sales and whatever else. They don't have to come off the compoud, people could just drive by there; they used to sell eggs from there years ago…. I wonder if they still raise their own chickens, should be raising cows too if they want beef!