Tue | Aug 22, 2017

72-y-o prisoner released after 18 years behind bars without being sentenced

Published:Saturday | October 3, 2015 | 10:40 AM
The more-than-160-year-old Tower Street Adult Correctional Centre in Kingston.

A 72-year-old former inmate diagnosed with a mental illness, has been temporarily moved to a private nursing home after languishing in prison for 18 years without being sentenced.

The National Security Ministry says preparations are now being made to remove him to an infirmary.

Vernal Walford who was being held at the Tower Street Adult Correctional Centre at the Governor General's pleasure was ordered released three weeks ago, after his situation was brought to the attention of the court.

However, he could not be released because his family showed no interest in assuming responsibility for his care.

As a result, the government has been forced to take care of him.

The National Security Ministry says Walford was incarcerated in 1997, but was diagnosed with a mental disorder, and deemed unfit to plead.

As a consequence, he remained in the penal system at the Governor General's pleasure.

However, since last year, the government has been working to return to the court system, persons who are unfit to plead so that they may be released to their families.

A committee comprising the National Security Ministry, the Department of Correctional Services, the Justice Ministry, and the Legal Aid Council has been overseeing the process. 

The committee has reported that in most cases family members cannot be located, and when they are found, they show no interest in assuming the responsibility of caring for their relatives.