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Penalties soft for officers, inmates who break HMP laws?

A section of Her Majesty’s Prison in Balsam Ghut. (BVI News photo)

Some penalties being proposed for inmates and officers who break the territory’s prison laws are what can be described as unsatisfactory.

According to the proposed Prison Act 2018 Bill, a prison 0fficer may only walk away with a fine not exceeding $2,000 or imprisonment of up to 18 months if they allow contraband and other items to be smuggled in or out of Her Majesty’s Prison in Balsam Ghut.

The maximum possible sentence for the prison officer who commits the aforementioned offence is the 18-month sentence AND the $2,000 fine.

An inmate found to be involved in such an offence is also subject to similar sanctions, the proposed prison bill has said.

The smuggling of items such as drugs, cellular phones, and weapons within prison walls is not uncommon in the BVI, and Health Minister Ronnie Skelton has called for some of the penalties to be ‘revised’.

READ: Phones, weapons, drugs found inside HMP

While making his contribution to the debate of the bill recently, he suggested that some of the penalties seem disproportionate to the crime.

Only $100 fine to assault prison guard

Another of the proposed penalties he said needs revisiting is the one for inmates who assault prison officers.

The prison bill has proposed a fine not exceeding $100 or two months imprisonment for that crime.

“I find those things to be not appropriate,” Skelton said.

He added: “When I read the things that are being committed, some seem to be more serious than others but the penalty is the same. I think we need to, again, have a look at that.”

The Prison Act, 2018 Bill – which is currently being debated in the House of Assembly – is seeking to modernise the territory’s legal framework with respect to the management and security of prisons, as well as the rehabilitation of inmates.

If passed, it will serve as repeal and replacement to the territory’s 1999 Prison Ordinance.

Minsiter responsible for prison Myron Walwyn said he hopes to see the Bill pass in the House this week.

Copyright 2018 BVI News, Media Expressions Limited. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or distributed.

5 Comments

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  1. Brad Boynes says:

    That entire Bill needs revision and public input. Come on Walwy. You are supposed to be smarter than this. You cannot pass an inept Bill just to make it look like you are doing something in the penological scheme if things. The Bill needs a deterrent factor in it that has a minimum AND mandatory provision. Italso needs to consider indeterminate sentencing guidelunes for specific offenses or certain offenses. Think 21st Century for a minute for God’s sake.

    18
  2. Observer says:

    This is very stupid reasoning. Prisoners are not earning, where do you expect they will find money to pay exorbitant fines? Almost always it will be a imprisonment by default unless they have someone outside who can pay fines for them.

    Just stick to reporting the news and stop with the opinion journalism.

  3. Hah says:

    This is absolutely stupid. Assault a prison guard $100? To quote the minister himself that mek sense? Criminals should be held accountable for any further criminal activities while imprisoned to the highest degree possible.

  4. look chubble says:

    put them ina closed cell by themselves for a month min

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