Attorney General Dale Marshall has outlined a new court plan for inmates on remand and those who find themselves on the wrong side of the law.
The plan takes effect as the Ministry of Health and Wellness continues to battle the COVID-19 outbreak at the island’s lone adult penal institution Her Majesty’s Prison, Dodds, in St Philip.
At present, 161 workers and inmates have tested positive for COVID-19.
The AG, who was speaking at a Press Conference at Ilaro Court this evening, told the media that he is actively working with the Chief Justice to address the issue of court cases given the “no person in, no person out” policy now implemented at the Prison.
“I have had extensive discussions with the Chief Justice [Sir Pat Cheltenham] and I need to say to you that given the situation at Her Majesty’s Prison, Dodds, we are adopting a policy of no person in no person out. Therefore in relation to remand individuals who are before the Courts for bailable offences, wherever possible those persons will be granted bail with the imposition of a variety of conditions,” Marshall explained.
The country’s chief legal advisor said those offences which are bailable will carry special arrangements while offences which require the accused to be remanded will be dealt with at the Barbados Defence Force base, St Ann’s Forte.
“You would know from our criminal system that you can have bail with reporting provisions, which can be as effective as keeping a person on physical remand in Dodds.
“A person might be asked to report on a daily basis to a police station so those are options that we have available to us. In relation to those offences which carry no bail, in the case of firearms or in the instance of homicides where the person is almost always remanded, special arrangements are being made for the establishment of temporary prison facilities.”
Marshall added: “This is not new, this was done when we had the prison fire. The Barbados Defence Force has a prison facility there that they have agreed to stand up for us. It is absolutely secure.”
The AG said those on remand at the prison who have court dates coming up will have to hold on as these matters will be deferred.
“In relation to court cases involving individuals who are currently on remand those I expect will be deferred for some time. Part of our challenge is of course going to be that even though we have the ability to do court appearances by Zoom from the prison, at this point in time that requires a level of interaction and dedicated activity by the prison resources and we feel that it would be in the best interest of all concerned if those matters should be deferred for a short time.”
Marshall continued: “In terms of criminal cases those individuals won’t be coming down, only where necessary would they be putting in an appearance by Zoom. (IMC)