By Esther Durand, BVI News Staff
Why would an inmate at Her Majesty’s Prison be allowed outside the penitentiary while still serving a term of imprisonment?
Well, the prison often facilitates inmates to visit family members who are bed-ridden. Superintendent of Prison Vern Garde said these out-of-prison visits are permitted as a rehabilitative measure.
“Family visits are very important to inmates. Before now, I think we used to allow 15 minutes for a family visit. But, that has increased because one of the major strategies for rehabilitation is family intervention. As a result, when an inmate has reached a particular threshold on his behaviour, we would increase the amount of time available to visits,” Garde explained.
“In some cases, we may give them an extra 10 minutes, and in some cases, we may give them an hour,” he further told BVI News in a one-on-one interview.
Foreign nationals get greater consideration
Garde also said the prison is more considerate towards foreign nationals. He said this category of inmates are allowed more extended visits; especially when family members have travelled from abroad to visit their relative in prison.
“Inmates do take visits as a very precious thing. It is one of the most important things for them. We don’t want it to be a situation where persons are from East End, for example, and they have an inordinate prison term, and they spend their entire prison term and is not visited by a parent and so forth,” Garde explained.
“If the persons are not inclined to visit you, in some cases, we may make representation at the level of the governor that the persons have been incarcerated for a year-and-a-half and has not appreciated a visit from their grandmother because their grandmother is bed-ridden. So we need to convey that inmate to see their grandmother rather than put the grandmother through the arduous task of coming to the prison,” he added.
The prison boss said that undertaking is done ‘very regularly’ and has ‘worked well’.
Meanwhile, Garde said inmates are allowed to be groomed and made presentable while incarcerated.
He said: “When inmates come into this institution on remand, they have a presumption of innocence and sometimes they will be required to go into the court to defend themselves. Just imagine, somebody goes to the court to defend themselves in rags. What do you think the impression of the judge or magistrate would be?”
“So on some occasions, you have to assist the inmates to be presentable when they go before the court, and it’s their right in my opinion because it is part of their defence. For example, if we have an inmate who comes into the facility with braids and they have stayed in prison for three months with the same braids, do you expect us to send this inmate in the presence of the judge or magistrate with the same braids; especially if the inmate wants to look presentable?”
He said the inmates usually pay for that service themselves. But in some cases, the prison will cover the cost.
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