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Prison is not the place for the mentally ill.

In prison abuse, Uncategorized on August 3, 2008 at 11:54 am

Prison is not the place for the mentally ill, said Justice Rita Joseph Olivetti of the British Virgin islands as she sentenced Christian Callwood to a two-year suspended sentence after he pleaded guilty to a wounding charge in the High Court recently.

Justice Olivetti, who with her staff recently visited Her Majesty’s Prison at Balsam Ghut, said, “At that visit, it was brought home to my mind how necessary, how pressing it is, for there to be facilities for someone who has suffered from mental illnesses.”

Mr. Callwood — who was charged with maliciously wounding a vacationing American tourist — has been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. He recently returned from Barbados, where he had been receiving
treatment at a long-term care facility.

The 25-year-old Callwood had a history of marijuana abuse, according to his mother, Tessa Callwood, who testified that drugs laced with other substances may have led to her son’s mental illness.

Worldwide, prisons have become the home for hundreds of persons with mental illnesses. Unfortunately, most such prisons are ill-equipped to accommodate and or rehabilitate persons suffering from mental illnesses who fail to integrate well with the inmate population.

For this and other reasons, mentally ill inmates often become the victims of various forms of physical and sexual abuse at the hands of both staff and other inmates.

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Guyanese Prisoner in Alleged Suicide

In Uncategorized on June 30, 2008 at 11:29 am

In early June, 2008 31-year old Surindranauth Bhoojnauth was found hanging in the police cells at Mahaica in Guyana after he allegedly hung himself with his belt from the ventilation window in the cells.

This is the third alleged suicide by hanging in Guyanese police cells for the year, after 2 men were found in the Diamond and Enmore Police Station lock-ups respectively.

Relatives of Bhoojnauth have criticised police for not following procedure to remove his belt, shoe laces and other potential dangerous items when they placed him in the cell. They are also claiming that due to a previous physical injury, Bhoojnauth would have been unable to reach the ventilation window to secure the belt to hang himself.

Moreover, his relatives deny that Bhoojnauth was suicidal at all and say that he was only charged for a minor offence and had experienced greater previous challenges in life successfully.

However, they claim that Bhoojnauth was physically assaulted by police immediately before being placed in the cells and are demanding that officers on duty at the time of his death be held responsible for breaching standard police procedures.

Investigations are ongoing.

Delay in Antigua Prison Sexual Assault Report

In sexual abuse, sexual assault, Uncategorized on March 30, 2008 at 10:24 am

In Antigua, allegations of sexual harassment at Her Majesty’s Prison (HMP) are being investigated by an independent committee established in early February, 2008 by the Ministry of Justice and Public Safety.

The allegations were made against Eric Henry, superintendent of Her Majesty’s Prison, by several female prison officers. Recently, however, similar allegations have been levelled against a few male prison officers.

The committee comprises Chairperson Rosa Lee, Bishop Kingsley Lewis, Sheila Roseau, director of the Directorate of Gender Affairs and Joan Moses, the committee’s secretary.

Initially the committee was to have submitted its report on 29 February 2008. However, an extension was granted to 31 March 2008. According to Minister Derrick, a press conference will be held subsequent to the release of the report, at which time the members of the committee will discuss their findings.

Henry has had these allegations levelled against him since July, 2007 but it was only in January, 2008 that several female officers spoke out to the media and alleged that they were propositioned by the prison superintendent.

CURB hopes that justice is done in the aftermath of this investigation and encourages the Antigua media as well as Minister Derrick to initiate an inquiry as to whether prisoners in Antigua have also experienced sexual assault and abuse from male prison officers.

Inmates represent a voiceless population and may well have endured similar or worse assaults but do not have the ear of the media to ventilate their woes.

St. Lucian Prisons No Picnic

In prison abuse, Uncategorized on March 22, 2008 at 6:42 am

The Star newspaper in St. Lucia recently ran a story which highlighted the challenges experienced by some inmates on remand at the Bordelais prison facility where many are forced to spend from three to four years behind bars before their cases are determined.

One woman, a 47-year-old mother of six who has been on remand since January 2005 on a charge of murdering her then employer, shared her story with the newspaper.

Uneducated and poor, she said that she only received visits from one daughter which averaged four 30 minute visits per month. Much of her time is spent waiting for her trial. While at Borderlais, she has learned to crochet to take away from the monotony of being locked up in her cell for most of the day.

Since going to Bordelais, this inmate said she had been hospitalised several times and was diagnosed with two cysts in her breasts and high blood pressure. When she is particularly stressed, the latter condition causes blood to pour from her nose and mouth.

Speaking of the food at Borderlais, the woman stated that the prison food was poorly prepared and cited instances where inmates often pick out roaches and flies in their meals!

Earlier this week, the inmate was relieved of the challenge of continuing to exist in those prison conditions when she was granted bail. However, some 16 other females remain remanded at Borderlais.

TCI Journalist Threatened

In prison abuse, prison sexual abuse, restorative justice, Uncategorized on February 10, 2008 at 11:34 am

In the wake of her ground-breaking article which exposed physical and sexual abuse of prisoners in the Grand Turk Prison, Turks and Caicos Islands journalist, Gemma Handy, has been threatened with prosecution.

CURB has sought to render some assistance to her by notifying several British and international agencies about the alleged abuses at the Grand Turk prison and the threats to prosecute Ms. Handy.

Prison Rape Radio Interview

In prison abuse, prison sexual abuse, restorative justice, sexual abuse, sexual assault, Uncategorized on November 19, 2007 at 5:19 am

To mark the beginning of Restorative Justice Week 2007, CURB President, Adrian N. Alexander, hosted a Radio Interview on ISAAC 98.1 FM about Prison Sexual Abuse.

Guests on the radio programme included the Executive Director of the Prison Reform Transformation Unit, the General Secretary of the Prison Officers Association, a Behaviour Modification Specialist, a prison ministry counsellor and an ex-prisoner.

Click on the link above to access the audio files from the interview which included an eye witness account of prison rape!

CURB To Highlight Prison Sex Abuse

In prison abuse, prison sexual abuse, restorative justice, sexual abuse, sexual assault, Uncategorized on January 10, 2007 at 6:25 pm

January 2007 – At its first meeting for 2007, the CURB Board of Directors agreed to address the controversial issue of Prison Rape and sexual abuse/assault during the year to culminate in Restorative Justice Week 2007 under the theme “Not Part of the Sentence”.

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