Close to 200 inmates, who are currently serving time behind bars at Her Majesty’s Prison at Dodds, St Philip will be back on the streets of Barbados between now and Independence Day.
Barbados TODAY investigations have revealed that the precise number of prisoners to be released is 184 even though top officials remain tightlipped about details surrounding the plan.
Asked by Barbados TODAY to comment on the matter, Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite could not say how many prisoners would be freed. However, he made it clear that only prisoners who had served out their sentences would be eligible to go home.
“They are not being released early,” he emphasized.
Another official also threw cold water on the idea of prisoners receiving a pardon, saying there were too many hurdles to overcome and “a million people” would have to write reports before that could happen.
He also pointed out that in instances where pardons were issued, it was up to the Governor General and other members of the local Mercy Committee to make such a determination.
“Release doesn’t happen just so,” he added.
However, in response to recent speculation that 50 inmates would be freed early to coincide with the island’s jubilee celebrations, at least two officials confirmed that the number was actually higher, emphasizing that it was not really a matter of the celebrations, but simply a case of the prisons having served out their time at Dodds, where the total number of inmates is said to be 918.
Earlier this week, Government Senator Reverend David Durant had called for the pardoning of 50 prisoners, saying he felt it would be a good gesture, as the country approaches its 50th anniversary of independence.
While suggesting that there were several prisoners who had turned over a new leaf while incarcerated, and who should be given another chance, Durant had also noted that
45 per cent of the 918 inmates at Dodds were on remand and that Government was currently paying about $93 per day per inmate.
He also argued that a significant portion of the over $30 million spent annually on the prison could be saved if the wheels of justice turned more quickly.
In a surprise move earlier this month, the local Mercy Committee ordered the release of murder convict Peter Bradshaw after he served more than 30 years for the 1985 killing of 74-year-old plantation owner Cyril Sisnett. Bradshaw, whose death sentence was later commuted to life, would have had requests for early release reviewed on several occasions before being freed in time for his 50th birthday on April 1 this year.