Report Council on Law enforcement: “St. Maarten needs 251 cell spaces”

POSTED: 03/5/14 10:28 AM

GREAT BAY – St. Maarten needs at leads 251 cell spaces in its prison system, 108 more than the 143 that are currently available, the Council on Law Enforcement states in its report ‘Detention capacity in Sint Maarten’ that council member Franklyn Richards presented to Minister of Justice Dennis Richardson last week.

The Minister expressed gratitude and indicated that the findings mentioned in the report serve to guide initiatives aimed at improving the overall situation regarding the detention capacity.

Pursuant to the Kingdom Act on the Law Enforcement Council the Minister will be given the opportunity to send the advice to Parliament within six weeks, along with his policy response. After six weeks the report will be available for downloading at www.raadrechtshandhaving.com.

The Council investigated whether the detention capacity in Sint Maarten matches the need. According to the Council it is important to analyze how many cell spaces are minimally necessary. The ministry of justice plans to expand the detention capacity – which involves high costs –while the shortage of cells increases.

The execution of judgments is important for the functioning of the criminal justice system. The Council is of the opinion that a state under the rule of law, in which judgments from judges are not executed, undermines itself.

To Council has calculated that Sint Maarten needs at least 251 cell spaces, while presently there are 143. That means that of all prison sentences imposed by the court (besides the part that as a result of conditional release is not executed), a considerable part – according to estimate at least 40% – cannot be executed.

These 251 cell spaces is a cautious calculation. “If Sint Maarten is serious about the implementation of the provisions in the Constitution about separate detention and treatment of convicts, suspects and youths it means that more cell spaces are needed,” the council said in a press statement. “Law enforcement anticipates the capacity problem and chooses sanctions and measures which avoid detention, for instance an entire conditional demand from the public prosecutor’s office or a policy directed to releasing certain category suspects during pretrial detention.”

With sufficient detention capacity this practice is expected to change. The council warns against the creation of a vicious circle whereby increased detention capacity results in imposing more prison sentences, which in turn creates a new shortage. The council furthermore points to the increased participation in crime by minors and young adults.

The council acknowledges in the report that creating new cells is not the biggest problem, not is it the only answer to the problem; maintaining a proper level of treatment for inmates is. Additional cells require more trained personnel.

The council researched alternatives to prison sentences like an integral prevention policy, more electronic supervision and better registration of information within law enforcement agencies.

The challenge therefore especially seems to be, building on sanctioning policy which protects the society against crime and offers young generations on Sint Maarten chances.

The Council on Law Enforcement was established in 2011 by Kingdom decree. It is an inter-insular independent body, responsible for the inspection of the various organizations within the justice system. The ultimate objective is to provide recommendations to the Ministers of Justice of the three countries of the Dutch Kingdom in order to correct shortcomings. The Council consists of three members who have been appointed by royal decree and represent respectively Curacao, the Netherlands for the BES islands and Sint Maarten.

Former Lt. Governor Franklyn Richards is the member for St. marten. Jacques van Eck, a former public prosecutor and currently state councilor in the department of administrative law of the Council of State in The Hague represents the Netherlands, and Glenn Camelia, a managing partner in FCW-legal represents Curacao.

The Council has a secretariat with offices in St. Maarten, Curacao and Bonaire. The Secretariat of the Council on Law Enforcement in St. Maarten is located in the Joeliva Building, Charles Voges Street 7 in Philipsburg. Phone: 542 90 21. Website: www.raadrechtshandhaving.com.

 

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