High price

Criminologist against mass incarceration

Barbados spends over $50,000 annually for every person sent to jail, says criminologist Yolande Forde, who wants to see less focus on incarceration and more on crime prevention.

Forde, the island’s first director on National Task Force on Crime Prevention until 2000, made the comment Monday night during a panel discussion hosted by the Men’s Group at the Maurice Byer Polyclinic, St Peter on How And Why Crime Raises Its Ugly Head And What Can We Do About.

Criminologist Yolande Forde addressing the men’s group.
Criminologist Yolande Forde addressing the men’s group.

Exposing what she saw as weaknesses in the current system, Forde warned that “locking up” prisoners was at the taxpayers’ expense and not the jailed perpetrator.

Therefore, she said there was no reason to rejoice over the fact that “the police got de man” or for Barbadians to suggest that prisoners “want locking up and pelting away the key”.

“[Barbadians] say it like if all of a sudden we got the crime under control, like they don’t understand that a stabbing is going to occur the next week,” said Forde, who stressed that the arrest and conviction of criminals was at the society’s expense.

A section of the audience at last night’s event put on by the Maurice Byer Polyclinic Men’s Group.
A section of the audience at last night’s event put on by the Maurice Byer Polyclinic Men’s Group.

“Don’t get confused, it’s us that pay the debt. Those fellas sitting down and lying down up there [in prison] don’t pay anything. It is us paying. It is our taxpayers’ money.”

The criminologist also contended that “prison is not cheap”, as she presented a crude calculation, in which took the figure of $29,324,293 given in the 2016-17 Estimates of Expenditure for prison expenditure and added to it the $20 million paid every January to the builders of Dodds prison, then divided it by the total prison population of 950 inmates, as of April this year.

“It comes to $53,631.58. That’s the approximate cost to keep one man in prison a year.

“I know Barbadians who don’t work for that,” Forde said.

However, she suggested that it was the Barbadian public and not the authorities who were responsible for the heavy financial load since, she said, cries were often heard of, “lock he up man, lock he up”.

Forde, a criminologist with 24 years experience, cautioned against mass imprisonment, saying “very often [prisoners] come out worst than when they went in; and two-thirds of them return to prison”.

She stressed the need for “real crime prevention work”.

“This erroneous perspective is certainly reflected in the budgetary allocations of funds, which see far more money being spent on security hardware, policing paraphernalia and other ‘response requirements’ like prison, rather than activities and programming that address many of the factors that predispose persons to criminal behaviour,” she said.

9 Responses to High price

  1. Lennox hewitt September 27, 2016 at 11:28 pm

    It’s a lot of money a year i got a sudjesion then hang d murderers that,on deaf row and that would subtract de money .

  2. Sharon Woolley
    Sharon Woolley September 28, 2016 at 2:07 am

    Hang the murderers, that will save a lot of $

  3. Hal Austin September 28, 2016 at 2:41 am

    If these figures are correct, it is not a surprise. We need more forms of sentencing, including sentencing teenagers to educational classes.
    What is the educational level of the average prisoner? What is the unemployment rate? How many are homeless, or badly housed?
    We must not punish poverty. In the final analysis, the forms of punishment we prefer are rooted in the socially divisive, vulgar, aggressive and violent Barbadian culture.
    At root we fear a return to poverty.

  4. Hal Austin September 28, 2016 at 2:57 am

    Sharon Woolley, I rest my case. Barbarism comes in many forms.

  5. Joy September 28, 2016 at 4:30 am

    THE COST OF NOT IMPRISONING THEM IS MUCH HIGHER. A recently released Peter Bradshaw after serving a sentence for murder is back in custody for gun and drug offences. I’m assuming the gun was not intended to teach Sunday school.
    A man deported to Barbados after serving a sentence for a double murder killed a woman here.
    There are more important considerations than money.

    It’s also misleading to not tell people that the cost of keeping the prisoner includes the salary paid to the prison officer.

  6. jrsmith September 28, 2016 at 5:53 am

    Simple issues in every parts of society , which is enforced all around the educated world by off the shelve technology , hasn’t even been given the chance by our non visioned ,non productive government who is making life very ,very hard for our people…

    Our judiciary as like everything involving our politicians/ government seems just to lack the will that something should be done.
    As I said before , when granting bail … 25% should be paid in cash this stays within the system , if you are guilty you loose that ..
    Lots of cases the persons can be electronically tagged , and monitored , this is saving space , money and time.. Our black politicians just cannot manage our island…..

  7. Donild Trimp September 28, 2016 at 10:03 am

    Yolande Forde is absolutely correct.

    People are being sent to prison for frivolous things, eg: 5 months for accidentally damaging a glass at Cheffette.

    Imprisoning people for frivolous offenses makes no sense.

    A waste of taxpayers money.

  8. Joy September 30, 2016 at 11:41 am

    If the Chefette glass was accidentally damaged then the person who did so would have offered to compensate Chefette and it would have been a civil matter not a criminal one. get your facts and come again.

  9. Rasta Wain August 19, 2017 at 8:01 pm

    Thanks for chairing and sharing, this is right on point.


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