Thursday, January 18, 2018

‘$400m a year to maintain prisoners

The State pays $312 per day to maintain an inmate in the prison system, National Security Minister Brigadier John Sandy says.

In response to a question on the Order Paper at yesterday’s Senate sitting, Sandy said according to records at the Trinidad and Tobago Prison Service, up to December 31, 2010, there were 3,493 prisoners in the nation’s jails.

This means that close to $400 million ($397,782, 840) is spent annually to keep prisoners behind bars.

Sandy said there are 3,386 male prisoners and 107 female prisoners, while there are 198 juvenile offenders (convicted and unconvicted) between the ages of 16 years and 18 years at the Youth Training Centre in Arouca.

He said the offences committed by these people who were incarcerated can be broadly classified as minor crimes and serious crimes: drug-related offences, fraud-related offences, property-related offences, sex-related offences, violent offences and offences against persons.

Sandy said the cost to maintain prisoners is usually reduced with the employment of inmates in productive labour within the prisons.

Some inmates, he said, contribute their services in industries such as agriculture, construction, food preparation and tailoring.

Government, he said, has moved to strengthen the legal and regulatory framework of the prisons through amendments of the prisons rules, which is under the purview of the Justice Ministry.

He said the introduction of a conditional release act prepared by the Penal Transformation Unit is also being examined by the Justice Ministry.

Sandy said the prison service, through a number of integration and rehabilitation programmes, tries to transform the lives of prisoners.

He said through the Fathers in Action programme, 30 inmates at the Arouca prison were able to invite their children to spend the day with them. He said 45 children visited the inmates and were given gifts courtesy the prison service.

Sandy said this initiative allows parents to think twice about the situation they are in and also advise the children that prison is not a place they would want to be.