The Cayman Islands Independent Monitoring Board (CIIMB) in its 2019 annual report highlighted a number of shortcomings that urgently need to be addressed in Fairbanks and Northward prisons.
The CIIMB’s monitoring and reporting is based on the World Health Organization (WHO )’s four key tests for a healthy custody environment, including safety, respect, targeted activities, and rehabilitation and discharge planning.
According to the report, there are major safety and health concerns in the prison. Some of the main problems are cockroach and rodent infestations, a lack of natural light and ventilation, accommodation that is constantly filled with cigarette smoke, and insufficient space for those with mental health problems.
According to the CIIMB report, there is no adequate “vulnerable prison wing” in the prison or many prisoners with mental health problems, or those with vulnerabilities due to the nature of the crime they commit are among the general prison population.
The board found that the prisoners’ quarters were in disrepair, with frequent instances of broken windows / meshes and tiles / shower heads in the bathrooms.
The board acknowledged that the prison staff and management made significant efforts to maintain and improve these living conditions. However, given the ongoing vandalism and inherited problems and the generally dilapidated condition of the prison and prison structure, it seems impossible to make any substantial improvement.
In addressing the cockroach and rodent infestation problem, safety concerns have also arisen for the board. The report said: “In attempts to control this infestation, bleach appears to be available to all prisoners and they have it available for cleaning in each wing and in the cells facing north. The bleaching solution stored in and around the prison is, however, diluted according to the board of directors. The Board of Directors remains concerned that it could pose a health and safety risk if used as a weapon against inmates or employees. “
Another problem identified in the report is the lack of or inconsistent functionality of video surveillance throughout Northward Prison. In its report, the board said it had been informed that the new fiber optic system would be operational by the end of 2019. However, there appear to have been some delays.
While prisoners have access to health and dental services provided by the Health Services Authority (HSA) in prisons, and the Board’s impression that their health needs are adequately and promptly met, it is the prison buildings where those services are provided initially failed their 2019 Health Commission inspection. The board was advised that this was due to structural issues and lack of fire escape. Work has now been carried out on these issues.
The board is concerned that no prison property is suitable for prisoners with physical disabilities. There are no ramps or elevators going north, and stairs are the only point of entry to many facilities.
An exception to the generally poor condition of the prison settlements is the Enhanced Reintegration Unit (ERU), in which the building is in good condition and has been completely modernized and well ventilated. The ERU was founded in early 2019 and is the first of its kind on a national level.
The board said that there are several educational and professional courses in Northward, but only a small number of prisoners can attend. In 2019, however, the board saw an increase in the number of prisoners attending these classes. There have also been some issues with delivering equipment in a timely manner to maintain consistency of these timetables at times.
The prisoners at Fairbanks do not have the same variety of focused activities to choose from as the prisoners at Northward. The classes are much fewer and there have been complaints from prisoners that some are inconsistent due to the frequent cancellation of classes.
The ROTL (Release on Temporary License) program is available to those entitled to help them reintegrate into society and to enable them to work and live in the rehab unit during this time.
ROTL prisoners are usually housed in the ERU next to Fairbanks Prison. The ERU is aimed exclusively at male prisoners. The ROTL program is also available to female prisoners, but there is no special building for them. They have an extended dormitory at Fairbanks Prison available to them. However, this is lacking compared to what is available to the male prisoners in this program.
One area of concern to the Board of Directors is the management of prisoner re-entry into society in general. This is an area where there currently appears to be gaps between prison services and other government agencies.
When he was released, the Board observed cases of housing problems for those who served their full terms. Several prisoners also raised concerns about the difficulty of finding work after they are released from prison, which is not only a prison issue but also a social issue.