Inmates call for early release program

POSTED: 12/30/11 11:57 AM

St. Maarten – The Pointe Blanche Inmates Association has called for Justice Minister to grant early release to prisoners under particular conditions including good behavior and proof of rehabilitation in order to solve the capacity issues at the Pointe Blanche House of Detention. Their appeal is part of a statement they issued on Thursday, in which they also call on the minister to not move forward with his “unlawful” plans to house some of them in Simpson Bay while repairs are being made in Pointe Blanche.
“This procedure would save time, money and would adhere to the rule of law and ethics and not self philosophy,” the inmates said.
Duncan plans to house prisoners in Simpson Bay temporarily so that he can complete planned renovations at the prison in phases. Pointe Blanche is also over capacity as it was built to hold 120 prisoners but there are 141 prisoners in the facility at the moment.
This is not the first time the inmates have pressed the minister to find other options to housing them and other detainees, but this is the first time they’ve made a concrete suggestion on how they believe they should be treated. The principle argument the inmates have against moving them to Simpson Bay and in some instances to Philipsburg police station is the fact that neither is designated as a prison. The court has already ruled that Philipsburg cannot be used as prison facility and Duncan is appealing.
“The minister has chosen to construct an unethical and unlawful solution by trying to manipulate the system and utilize his position in an abusive fashion,” the inmates state.
The latter statement is attached to an accusation that the minister has ignored advice from amongst others the Public Prosecutor and the example offered by Italy, Bonaire, Curacao and Anguilla. Italy has been granting 18 months of house arrest as part of sentences, while Bonaire and Curacao are releasing inmates early and Anguilla is using electronic braces. Duncan is on record that the latter option is prohibitively expensive.

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