Basseterre, St. Kitts, December 04, 2015 (SKNIS): The Government of St. Kitts and Nevis is exploring alternative sentencing in order to improve access to justice said the Honourable Vincent Byron, Attorney General and Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs.
Speaking on the Government’s weekly television and radio programme, he said at present, the prison is over populated and it is imperative to address and solve this issue.
“The present complement that it should have is 160 inmates and currently we have 224 inmates,” he said, adding that an average of 60 persons are on remand. “These are people who are pending trial. They have not been proven guilty but they are incarcerated.”
The attorney general made mention of the Criminal Justice Strategic Board (CJSB), stating that the overcrowding in the prison is one of the issues that the board was established to help address, and he hopes this can be rectified at the soonest.
“I take the point that there is need to consider and get approval for building a new prison,” the attorney general said. “We can also work to manage the prison population that we currently have. It may also mean having to find ways to speed up the process of trials, having a second courtroom and maybe more magistrates.”
He questioned the role that prison plays, speaking on its responsibilities to punish and rehabilitate. He made mention of the many positives that derives from the inmates.
“There are 12 inmates who are preparing for Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE). Education is a big part,” he said. “They do music, art, people are making shoes. There are issues that our society needs to address, rather than just incarcerating people.”
He further stated that there are other issues that should be addressed rather than building prisons and locking up people. Questions such as what happens to these persons when they are released from prison? And how are they reintegrated into society?