Prison conditions improved with the April 2012 opening of the Belle Isle Correctional Facility but remained poor for prisoners held in the old prison in Kingstown.
Physical Conditions: Belle Isle is designed to hold 288 inmates, with nine inmates per cell, in separate quarters for males and females. In 2012 the first phase of the prison held 237 male inmates and no female inmates. Her Majesty’s Prison in Kingston held an additional 173 prisoners in a building designed to hold 150. The exact number of HIV-infected prisoners was unavailable, although the superintendent of prisons confirmed that three prisoners were receiving antiretroviral treatment. Prisoners had access to potable water.
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, although living conditions in the new Belle Isle facility represented a significant improvement over the Kingstown prison. The SVGHRA also alleged that guards routinely beat prisoners to extract information regarding escapes, violence, and crime committed in the prison. Key problem areas included the inability to segregate prisoners, gangs, and contraband, including cell phones and drugs.
In 2012 the Fort Charlotte Prison held 14 female inmates in a separate section designed to hold 50 inmates, where conditions were antiquated and unhygienic. With the opening of the new prison, authorities held most pretrial detainees separately from convicted prisoners. Authorities held young offenders (16 to 21 years of age), 10 percent of the total male prison population, with adult 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. The police also reported that they kept some young male offenders at the police station, where they lived and performed basic chores instead of being incarcerated.
Administration: Recordkeeping on prisoners was adequate. Courts often released nonviolent offenders on bond instead of sentencing them to prison terms. The conditions of the bond required good behavior on the part of the offender to avoid serving time in prison. Prisoners were free to practice any religion of their choosing, and authorities generally respected this right. Each convict could have one visitor per week. There were no limitations on visitors for those in custody but not yet convicted. Local churches organized weekly religious services. While there is no official prison ombudsman, a prison board composed of a magistrate and a justice of the peace visited all three prisons bimonthly. During their visits prisoners with complaints can speak directly to the board. In addition prisoners could file complaints by writing the court registrar who schedules court hearings.
Independent Monitoring: In addition to the prison board, the government permitted prison visits by independent human rights observers, and such visits took place during the year.