BVI News

Inmates sometimes allowed to leave penitentiary for special visits

Her Majesty’s Prison in Balsam Ghut.

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’.

Grooming inmates

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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  1. Please says:

    Total BS no wonder youths are out of control when they see that the prison soft. What about the lives some of them have destroyed because of their bad ways total folly.

    Like 14
    Dislike 11
  2. umpire says:

    Fair enough

    Like 9
    Dislike 5
  3. Hah says:

    This system is a joke and why nobody is afraid of jail. That is not the only reason. I saw a prisoner in a store with an officer being allowed to buy electronics while serving time for killing a man. The governor need to do whatever he had to do to fix this since he’s in charge of prisons. Prisoners posting on Facebook everyday. Prison should be a place that’s bad enough that you will not want to be a repeat offender while rehabilitating criminals.

    Like 25
    • Hotel on the hill says:

      I see them on the beach chilling with people woman in regular clothes!
      And the prison officer right there on his phone
      No care in the world
      Give them work to go
      Go clean road
      That’s why they keep doing the crime to go back to the hotel up the hill

      Like 6
      Dislike 1
  4. observer says:

    Governor you need to turn the prison over to the police force before its to late ,that place is out of control its not a prison and that man Garde is a joke just here for the money he has that place like a playground ,officers that are there for the right reason fed up with the way he running the place.

    Like 14
    Dislike 9
  5. Jokes says:

    He looking a next term to run the prison , keep grooming

  6. Haters says:

    Y’all have family too.

  7. Shorty says:

    You can tell half of y’all have no clue what happens in your own island. This isn’t something that has just been occurring with the present prison boss it has been going on for years. The BVI is signatory to the human rights legislation and prisoners still have human rights. Being granted day release or special release isn’t something new and takes a process before being granted. Further it is part of the rehabilitation process.

    Like 6
    Dislike 2
  8. Hi5 says:

    Well well well. Pple in BVI welcome to the era of Corrections and Rehabilitation. I charge you to educate yourselves. Read tje minimum standard rules for the treatment of prisoners. The state must be happy they employed Mr. Garde. Indeed he has turned out to be a Mr. God to the BVI. The name of the prison needs to be changed – maybe you guys will understand how the scene works then. The penal system has phased out, inmates are not in prison to be punished but as punishment. Therefore the focus is on behavior modification for reintegration. No one is sent to prison for life. They have a date to leave. What condition do you want your relatives, your friends, your neighbour to return to society to? I can go on… makes me want to write a book just to keep society informed on the issue at hand. Maybe there should be a weekly talk show. Then again the critics still wont understand because they complain for complaining sake and the disagree for disagreeing sake. But i leave you with this – THE GOVT EMPLOYED THE RIGHT MAN FOR THE JOB.

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