Newly released inmates served in various roles while in jail, including teacher and editor-in-chief
The early release of two former rape and robbery convicts this morning and the planned release of a third, who’s been behind bars at Her Majesty’s pleasure for manslaughter, could see the “floodgates” of Dodds Prisons opening up in the coming months.
Unlike Orlando Lorde and his partner Peter Forde, who walked out of jail three years ahead of time today after convincing the local Privy Council of the exemplary life they lived in prison and their commitment to reform, the other inmate Arleigh James will go free for slightly different reasons.
Even though James’ rehabilitative efforts and his selection as a prison trustee are critical factors in his imminent release, another compelling consideration has to do with a recent Caribbean Court of Justice ruling that suggests it is unconstitutional to sentence a person at Her Majesty’s pleasure. The CCJ –– this country’s final Court of Appeal –– went farther, to find that all sentences must be definitive [including the notion of life].
James, who has so far been confined to jail for more than 20 years, after chopping to death his wife Deborah James with a cutlass in 1994, is, according to reliable informants, just one of a number of others who’ve been sitting behind bars for lengthy periods, and who have similar matters before Chief Justice Sir Marston Gibson for determination.
Following a period of disharmony between the convict and his wife, the court had heard that the strained relations came to boiling point, when she was packing some of her clothes, seemingly to drive off with a waiting pastor and leave the marriage.
During James’ trial, it was discovered that two years prior to what the court described as “a frenzied attack” on his wife, he was admitted to the Psychiatric Hospital and diagnosed with paranoia, which the doctor assessed as “a medical disorder characterized by delusions organized into a system, a rare chronic condition most people with such delusions would in time, develop signs of other medical illnesses”.
Persons close to his case, are of the view –– and the prison authorities seem to agree –– that he has come a long way from where he was, to being considered a trustee.
They say he has been substantially rehabilitated and reformed and was now a model prisoner.
With the Barbados Government intent on abandoning the mandatory death sentence, and the CCJ finding that the age-old practice of sentencing convicts to an indefinite term of at Her Majesty’s pleasure was unconstitutional, authorities here appear to be putting greater emphasis on rehabilitation rather than merely keeping persons locked away for inordinately long periods.
Strong evidence of how authorities appear to be leaning increasingly more on the side of rehabilitation as reasons for releasing prisoners may be found in today’s freeing of Lorde and Forde who had spent 15 years in jail –– three years ahead of time –– for the 1995 rape and robbery of a minibus conductress at French Village, St Peter.
One of Lorde’s attorneys today painted a picture of a man who was a model prisoner and teacher.
“Mr Lorde was a model inmate and has committed himself to turning his life around. He took part in all the available courses for rehabilitation and he made a further commitment to educate himself,” boasted Grace McKaskie.
“He is an intelligent guy, having gone to Lodge School, and during the time of his incarceration, he was successful in obtaining six O Levels, three at Grade 1. And what impressed the authorities, was that he was not only committed to doing better and to turning his life around, but he made an effort to influence others to do the same,” continued McKaskie, who’s working in association with Queen’s Counsel Dr Erskine Hinds.
“And in recognition of that effort, he was made a paid teacher and he taught a number of students. Everything he learnt, he taught the others and he got very good results; but in business studies in particular, he got 100 per cent passes for the students that he taught.
“Dr Hinds made an application to the local Privy Council to have part of his sentence remitted and the Governor General [Sir Elliott Belgrave] accepted the advice of the local Privy Council that he should be so released. So that approval came today, June 26,” pointed out the attorney.
One of Forde’s lawyers, Safiya Moore, said her client had made efforts to become a better person since his incarceration.
“He has engaged in various rehabilitation programmes offered by the prison service, including anger management, cognitive and personal enhancement as well as values education,” Moore explained.
“Further, Mr Forde has attained passes in various CXC subjects. Mr Forde has worked with the publishing of numerous literary works whilst incarcerated. These publications include To Our Children and Over The Wall, as well as Our Mothers, Our Treasures.
“Mr Forde, up to the date of his release, was also the long-standing editor-in-chief of the GlenDodds Journal. Mr Forde is best known for his performing arts productions, which have been in Barbados, including Love, Poetry And Song. He has received numerous awards at NIFCA for his exemplary work in both the area of performing arts as well as craft,” declared the legal counsel.
It is now left to be seen how soon freedom would come to those other reformed convicts who are waiting for their time back home with their families.