So many prisoners


Prison stats
Prison & Drugs


The Royal Gazette Ltd

Bermuda high on imprisonment list

Bermuda, July 19, 2000

Bermuda's prisoner population is the fifth highest in the world by population, according to Deputy Prison Commissioner Marvin Trott.

Figures from UK Internet news source The Electronic Telegraph put the Island at ninth position with 445 people in prison per 100,000 population.

However Mr. Trott calculated that recent surges in the prison population - due to more men being jailed for not paying child maintenance - meant Bermuda's rate was now much higher.

He said: "I think those figures are from last year. I think it's now at about 550 per 100,000," he said.

That would put Bermuda behind Russia (730), America (680), Cayman Islands (665) and Belarus (575).

Mr. Trott said Government's plans for Alternatives to Incarceration, which include other ways to extract cash rather than jail non-payers, plus half-way houses for civil offenders would tackle rising incarceration rates.

He said: "We have announced some of the things we are doing to combat this rise.

"Personally I think Bermuda's figures are high because of the type of Island we are, with a lot of targeting of drug importers and general crime.

He said the situation in Bermuda was similar to other comparable islands.

The Cayman Islands, the Bahamas and the US Virgin Islands all figure in the top ten list according to the Electronic Telegraph.

He said: "I think the rate is significantly higher with small countries and small islands where the government wants to create a tourist friendly atmosphere by ensuring criminals are not left to wander about continuing to commit crime."

Mr. Trott said there was happier news for the prison service with the announcement of 16 promotions which come into affect on August 1.

The Prison Officers Association was unhappy with delays as people continued in acting roles despite recommendations for promotion being put forward in February.

Mr. Trott said he was glad the appointments were finally made by the Public Service Commission but refused to explain the delay.

There are two new chief officers among the batch getting new jobs.

Edward Williams will be in charge of courts and security.

Mr. Trott said: "That's quite a plateful. He will have to ensure the court operation runs smoothly."

Clyde Wilson will be in charge of staff recruitment and training.

Recruitment is a big issue, admitted Mr. Trott, with many officers reaching retirement age.

He said advertisements would be placed either this week or next for eight new lower-rank prison officers.

Recently, the Prison Officers Association had complained it had too few officers to cope with the rising prison population.

Home Affairs and Public Safety Minister Paula Cox said there were about 303 inmates, although she conceded there had been an influx of about 36 through civil incarcerations.

That figure would climb to abound 450, if taken as a percentage of 100,000 instead of 60,000 - the Island's population.

Ms Cox said: "I don't know where we rank, but we do take on board what is being said.

"We are looking at the Alternatives to Incarceration programme. We have about roughly 33 to 36 (civil) people that may be released that have inflated the numbers.

"People put in prison for civil matters is not an ideal example, but clearly we are moving towards making sure that people who are a danger to the community are incarcerated."

Ms Cox said recently that Works and Engineering Minister Alex Scott was looking at alternative buildings to house prisoners to ease the overcrowding problem.

She said he had been looking at other buildings within the prison system to take the strain but there had been no concrete movements yet.






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