Set 50 prisoners free, says Durant
Government Senator David Durant today added fuel to growing speculation that Government intended to release 50 prisoners for Barbados’ 50 anniversary of political independence.
There is as yet no official confirmation of the plan, however, Durant today urged the Freundel Stuart administration to free the yet unidentified convicts as part of the jubilee celebrations.
It was not immediately clear whether or not the Government Senator was hinting at what was to come, but he said several prisoners had turned over a new leaf during their incarceration and should be given another chance.
“I want to also suggest that as an act of goodwill during our 50th year jubilee celebrations for Government to think about pardoning and releasing 50 prisoners.
“They are those who are really of good behaviour and working very, very good . . . and I believe it would be a good gesture in a jubilee year . . .,” Durant suggested as he spoke this afternoon in the Senate during debate on the 2016-2017 Estimates of Expenditure and Revenue.
Durant also revealed that almost half of the inmates at HMP Dodds were on remand, costing the state tens of millions of dollars.
He said 45 per cent of the 918 prisoners at the St Philip prison were on remand, with Government paying an estimated daily cost of $93 per inmate.
He blamed the high ratio of inmates on remand on the slowness of the island’s judicial system.
“Our system really needs upgrading and hastening up. Expedite these cases,” he urged the authorities.
“It cost $93 to maintain an inmate at HMP Dodds and when you calculate that it is $31, 161, 510 per year for that number of inmates and that is not including salaries, or wages or anything of that nature . . . .That is high, and when you think that 45 per cent of them are on remand, it means that figure could possibly be reduced,” Durant argued.
He also revealed that 43 per cent of the inmates were between the ages of 17 and 30, and eight out of ten young men there could neither read nor write.
“It means that the cream of the crop of our productive strength, skill and talent are sitting idly by incarceration or on remand . . . and it means something is happening or not happening in our educational system,” the senator warned. (RB)