By Esther Durand, BVI News
Maybelline Rodriguez, the woman on remand at Her Majesty’s Prison pending her day in court for a 2018 murder is currently housing her newborn at the adult penitentiary.
Superintendent of Her Majesty’s Prison (HMP) Verne Garde told BVI News the female inmate gave birth late last year at the Peebles Hospital.
He also told our news centre that the state has made ‘all necessary provisions’ for the ‘regular growth of infant’ while it is in prison.
“The child is with her … so everything that the child needs, all the social service support, all the family support and everything else is provided for the child by the prison,” Superintendent Garde said.
“The prison has set up an area conducive to child care,” he added.
He further noted that Rodriguez is receiving extraordinary treatment from other inmates while she mothers the child in lockup.
“The mother of the child is treated as a mother during the period that the child is incarcerated. So the treatment is quite different from the regular incarceration.”
Provisions made in law
While this situation may seem strange, the laws of the British Virgin Islands has provisions for such circumstances.
A trip to the territory’s law library reveals Chapter 166 of the Prison Ordinance which effectively says an incarcerated mother is allowed to have her infant remain with her in prison during what is known as the lactating period.
However, only under ‘special circumstances’ allows for the infant to remain past its first birthday. The law also indicates that if necessary, the state is mandated to cover the expenses of both mother and child.
Section 118 of the aforesaid law specifically states: “The child of a woman prisoner may be received into prison with its mother, provided it is at the breast, and any such child so admitted shall not be taken from its mother until the Prison Medical Officer certifies that it is in a fit condition to be removed.”
Further provisions are made in Section 119 of the said law. That section states: “When any child admitted with its mother has attained the age of nine months, the Prison Medical Officer shall report whether it is desirable or necessary that it shall any longer be retained. But, except under special circumstances, no such child shall be kept in prison after it has arrived at the age of 12 months.”
“Any such child while in prison may be supplied, if necessary, with clothing at the public’s expense.”
In the meantime, Rodriguez and two others are charged with the February 2018 murder of Trumayne ‘Passion’ Daway. They are expected to go to trial at the High Court.
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