V.I. Prisons Improve To Comply With Court Orders

In prison abuse on August 12, 2008 at 1:00 pm

In the Virgin islands, government officials have been actively engaged in efforts to improve the state of the nation’s prisons mere months before the territory’s prison system breaks off from the V.I. Justice Department.

In October of next year, the Corrections Bureau will be severed from the Justice Department and will become an independent agency under the Office of the Governor.

Attorney General Vincent Frazer said that supervisors have been appointed temporarily at Golden Grove Adult Correctional Facility on St. Croix and Farrelly Justice Complex and Alva Swan Annex jails on St. Thomas. Golden Grove and the St. Thomas jails both are operating under federal consent decrees.

The search continues for a new Corrections director to replace Elwood York who unexpectedly resigned last December. Frazer hopes by October he will announce the name of the new Bureau of Corrections director.

In 2006, a District Court magistrate appointed a special master in charge of rectifying conditions at Golden Grove, which has operated since 1986 under the federal consent decree requiring improvements in security, physical and mental health care, fire safety and sanitation.

The St. Thomas jail system is also undergoing court-mandated improvements, 14 years after the government reached a settlement with mentally ill inmates represented by the ACLU.

The failure of the previous prison administrators led to four contempt of court rulings in the last dozen years. In recent times, in an effort to satisfy the judge overseeing the mandated changes, the Justice Department has sent several mentally ill inmates to off-island institutions for treatment.

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