Persons on remand at HMP Dodds will soon be able to access educational and developmental programmes.
That is according to Minister of Home Affairs Wilfred Abrahams, who has revealed that Government is in the process of relooking and revamping the way in which accused persons on remand at the penal institution are being treated.
His comments have come just one day after attorney-at-law Lalu Hanuman chastised the judiciary for not allowing persons on remand to access the prison’s many programmes.
“When somebody is on remand, they’re not entitled to anything. They’re not entitled to any educational process in the prison, they’re not given any sort of support, they’re just left there to rot. Once you’re convicted you have art programmes, you have carpentry, you have all kinds of things available to you but on remand you have nothing,” Hanuman said after the jury delivered a not guilty verdict in favour of his client Lionel Wilson who was accused of raping a 73-year-old woman and spent four years on remand awaiting trial.
Just last month, High Court Judge Randall Worrell also called for persons doing lengthy remand stints to have access to educational programmes.
He said it was necessary due to the backlog of cases.
“…If we are going to say that there’s an inbuilt delay in the system of at least two to three years …it must mean that something must be done for those who have to suffer in the delay,” said Justice Worrell at the time.
But in an interview with Barbados TODAY this morning, Abrahams gave the assurance that changes were coming.
“Now I have heard the concerns articulated by the attorneys with respect to their clients who have been on remand being treated differently from those in the general population. The difficulty is that if you are on remand then you are not really supposed to be included in the general population, but that does not address the court issue.
“The court issue is for the time that the State has custody of people we should be trying to hold them in the best possible situation. So whatever programmes they are for persons in jail, or who are serving a sentence, they should be some sort of similar or complementary programme for those who are on remand, because at the end of the day even if you are found guilty and you serve a sentence the aim is not simply to punish you, it is to help you to come back out and be a productive member of society and to prepare you for that,” Abrahams said.
The minister, under whose responsibility the prison falls, promised that a “comprehensive” review of the prison would soon be undertaken.
He said once that was done, Government would be in a better position to decide what improvements needed to be made.
“I believe that we have a responsibility to all who are in the care of the prison service to provide opportunities for them for self-advancement and it is something that we are looking at. I’ll probably make a more definitive statement on that sometime shortly, but we are going through all of the programmes at the prison, looking at what is offered to get the most comprehensive programme possible to assist inmates and those on remand and to facilitate their reintegration into society,” Abrahams pointed out.