Friday 3 July, 2020

Long remand time causing issues at Dodds

Kim Ramsay, Senior Research Officer with the Criminal Justice Research and Planning Unit (CJRPU). 
(PHOTO: Richard Grimes)

Kim Ramsay, Senior Research Officer with the Criminal Justice Research and Planning Unit (CJRPU). (PHOTO: Richard Grimes)

Prisoners on remand at HMP Dodds continue to outnumber convicted prisoners as revealed in a recent study conducted by the Criminal Justice Research and Planning Unit (CJRPU).

Further to that, a lack of productive activities for remand inmates is causing a chaotic situation at the prison where physical fights and brawls are occurring frequently.

This information was revealed by Senior Research Officer with the CJRPU, Kim Ramsay, during a presentation on the profile of HMP Dodds as part of the National Consultation on Violence at the Sir Garfield Sobers on Thursday.

According to the study which surveyed 438 inmates, most of whom were on remand, 141 were convicted inmates and 297 were remanded which represents 7 in 10 respondents in the survey. Ramsay said more than half of the remanded population were between the ages of 20 and 40 who, according to prison regulations, were not permitted to engage in any employment or vocational programs.

This “idle time”, Ramsay noted, was making remanded inmates employees of the “devil’s workshop”.

“I am still concerned about the fact that you have idle men sitting down, in some cases five and six years, who just sit there and that is how a lot of fights happen on the remand block. If they had more time out of cell I think a lot of them would be in less trouble.”

Ramsay said she was in full support of remand inmates being allowed to work along with those in the prison’s general population and in this way make the prison a more productive and safe system.

She went on to explain more than 50 percent of the inmates surveyed admitted to being threatened by another inmate while noting they expected such within the prison environment while 24 percent said they felt unsafe in prison.  

Ramsay said one comforting statistic coming out of the preliminary survey was the fact that the majority of inmates said they had never been attacked, shoved, forced into sexual activity or bullied by prison officers.

“That is what people always think in the mainstream media; that there is always prison officers beating people and so on but I came across very few prisoners that admitted that they were beaten by prison officers.”

Ramsay noted, however, she was concerned about the high percentage of those who were on bail when they were arrested for the crime they were currently incarcerated for. This group constituted for 37 percent of the inmates surveyed while eight percent were on probation, four percent were on bond and six percent were wanted by police.

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