Suicide Prompts Probe of BVI Prisons

In prison abuse, prison sexual abuse, restorative justice, sexual abuse, sexual assault on February 1, 2008 at 8:46 pm

In the British Virgin Islands, the recent apparent suicide of an inmate has led to the launch of an investigation into the operations at Her Majesty’s Prison.

Andrew Fahie, the minister with responsibility for prisons, announced in January that in the wake of the death of inmate Patrice Grant, 30, who was found hanging in his cell from a bed-sheet on December 31, 2007.

Fahie referred to Grant’s death as an unfortunate event in the history of the country and expressed condolences to Grant’s family. He pledged that proactive measures would be implemented forthwith to avoid such incidents as well as other incidents recurring.

The mandate of the investigative team is to examine and revise the daily activities and procedures at the prison by both prison officials and inmates; review and revise the daily supervision of inmates; review the daily procedures at the prison by prison officials; examine and make recommendations about the inmates concerns and welfare; and examine and make recommendations about prison officials concerns and welfare.

Fahie assured that the investigation team is in no way aimed to belittle the work of the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force, the Prison Visiting Committee or any prison officials, but rather one in which we can take a closer look at the day to day operations at Her Majesty’s Prison and improve on the weaknesses of this institution and strengthen the strengths.

CURB believes that there needs to be an increase in the attention paid by prison officials to the emotional wellness of incarcerated persons. The trauma of the criminal justice process, separation from loved ones, prison conditions and the prison sub-culture are all unspoken ‘additions’ to the sentences delivered by judges and magistrates.

Without proper infrastructural changes within prisons and programmes to assist inmates treat with the challenges of these factors, self harm, inmate-on-inmate violence and re-offending post-discharge are hardly likely to be eradicated.

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