Wed | Jan 16, 2019

Letter of the Day | Reform prison policy for early release

Published:Wednesday | February 21, 2018 | 12:00 AM


To coop up more than 3,700 offenders in seven prisons from a population of 2.7 million is a scandalous indictment on this small island of ours, is costly, and wasteful of human resources. Even worse, 65 per cent of the incarcerated are between the ages of 18 and 25. Even worse, I suspect that 42 per cent are imprisoned for minor offences.

We need to reform a dysfunctional prison system that is practising a farcical rehabilitation programme which does not give enough satisfactory returns.

First-time offenders for minor crimes, I have been advocating, should serve only half of their sentence cooped up, during which they must work productively to defray some of the expenses of their imprisonment.

They should be resettled into society with a tracking device securely attached to each for the rest of their sentence, and be supervised and assisted by an effective probation system. This would be far less costly than imprisoning them for an inordinate length of time.

Halfway houses ought to be less expensive than the coop.

The time elapse demanded before a record is expunged is unreasonable.

Many offenders who, on their release, live a decent, law-abiding life are bereft of opportunities to make good, because of the unjust length of time before they can get their prison record expunged.


More punishment


The present system continues to punish an offender long after he has paid the price of his/her wrongdoing.

It is not just. It is unfair. I am happy to learn that Senator Pearnel Charles Jr is intent on prison reform. I trust that he will consider the issues that I have raised. Good going, Senator.