Opinion: Cell capacity

POSTED: 03/5/14 10:25 AM

The Council on Law Enforcement has produced a magic number: 251. That is the number of cell spaces St. Maarten needs to meet the demand of the criminal justice system. Currently there are 143 places.

Building more prison cells will obviously not do anything to tackle crime on the island. True, it will create more space to put criminals away, but it does not address the root causes – poverty and poor education.

Adding more than 75 percent to the currently available space sounds like an ambitious goal and even though it is not the solution to everything, it still needs to be done.

Right now, there are too many “current verdicts” – a reference to people who have been convicted but who have never spent a day in jail. At last count, there were 150 of such verdicts, and that number refers to 2012.

Convicted criminals ought to be locked up – nobody will disagree with that. However, as long as St. Maarten does not get serious about tackling the root causes of crime, there will never be enough prison cells.

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