Prison conditions remained poor. Prison buildings were antiquated and overcrowded, with Her Majesty’s Prison in Kingstown holding 409 inmates in a building intended to hold approximately 150, creating serious health and safety problems.
The Belle Isle Correctional Facility officially opened in 2009 but remained empty at year’s end. While prisoners were working at the on-site farm, they continued to reside in Kingstown, but authorities plan to transfer them to the new prison within the first quarter of 2012. The new facility is designed to hold 288 inmates in separate quarters for males and females.
Poor economic prospects for former prisoners drove recidivism rates of 75 percent or higher. Key problem areas in the current facility included the inability to segregate prisoners, gangs, and contraband, including cell phones and drugs. HIV/AIDS prevalence in prison was more than 10 times that of the general population; 4.1 percent of inmates were infected.
The SVGHRA reported that prison problems such as endemic violence, understaffing, underpaid guards, uncontrolled weapons and drugs, increasing incidence of HIV/AIDS, and unhygienic conditions persisted. Corrupt prison staff commonly served as a source of drugs, weapons, and cell phones. The SVGHRA also alleged that guards routinely beat prisoners to extract information regarding escapes, violence, and crime committed in the prison. On November 25, a prisoner died in police custody due to a blockage of the main lung artery. A senior-level police investigation took place at year’s end to gain a more detailed understanding of what led to the prisoner’s death.
The Fort Charlotte Prison held 15 female inmates in a separate section designed to hold 50 inmates, where conditions were antiquated and unhygienic. Pretrial detainees and young offenders (16 to 21 years of age), 10 percent of the total male prison population, were held with convicted prisoners.
Conditions were inadequate for juvenile offenders. Boys younger than 16 were held at the Liberty Lodge Boys’ Training Center, which takes in at-risk boys who can no longer stay at home due to domestic problems or involvement with criminal activity. Most of the boys were at the center because of domestic problems, and only a small number were charged with committing a crime.
Each convict had a schedule of visitors limited to one visit per week. There were no limitations on visitors for those in custody but not yet convicted. Local churches organized weekly religious services. Prisoners could file complaints by writing the court registrar who schedules court hearings. The government permitted prison visits by independent human rights observers, and such visits took place during the year.