Thu | Jul 16, 2020

PNP wants new secure facility for persons unfit to plead

Published:Friday | June 5, 2020 | 12:00 AM
People’s National Party Spokesperson on Justice, Donna Scott Mottley - File photo

People’s National Party Spokesperson on Justice, Donna Scott Mottley, says the case of Noel Chambers shows that there is an urgent need for the establishment of a secure facility outside of the penal system to house persons, charged with crimes, but deemed unfit to plea.

Chambers was in custody for 40 years and died in January.

Chambers, whose body bore bedsores and bites from bedbugs, had been held at the pleasure of the governor general after being charged with murder on February 4, 1980.

READ: Courts under fire as inmate held for 40 years dies without trial

He was one of 146 mentally ill people being held by the Department of Correctional Services without trial.

“As persons are deemed unfit to plea, there should be an immediate process of diversion, which removes them from the penal structures into a suitable place of care. This would prevent or minimise anyone from being misplaced in the system,” Scott Mottley said.

She argues that there needs to be a dedicated team of investigators to determine the conditions of all persons who are currently incarcerated.

She says the inhumane conditions evident in the case of Chambers should not have been the circumstance for anyone, regardless of the crime for which they may be accused.

Scott Mottley also says the government should also move immediately to a digitalisation of the court records, especially as at the point of interface with the correctional system to prevent errors such as those which led to the 40-year detention of Chambers.

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