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
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
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
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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