Tuesday 11 December, 2018

Too many view prison as a motel, warns MP

Member of Parliament for St Philip North, Dr Sonia Browne.

Member of Parliament for St Philip North, Dr Sonia Browne.

It is time that persons going to prison in Barbados view it as a place they never want to return to.

That is the view of Member of Parliament for St Philip North, Dr Sonia Browne.

Speaking during the debate on the Offences Against the Person (Amendment) Bill, 2018, she stressed that she had encountered too many persons who are not afriad to return to prison:

"Prison should be a place where the thought of returning should never enter somebody's mind and right now that is not the case.

"I have met people that told me straight ready to go to a fight, 'doc I don't mind, prison not made for animals. Doc I don't mind I got friends in there.'"

She believes that the punishment persons receive should instead discourage them from ever returning:

"It has to be a place where when you go in the punishment meted out to you, you have no idea or dream about ever going back to prison and right now I cannot say for a fact that that is the case... 

"It has to be more than going and play dominoes - and I do speak to people that come out of prison so I am not saying this willy-nilly - it has to be more than playing dominoes and cards in the yard."

Dr Browne suggested some activities which she believes would help curve such attitudes towards prison life:

"They have an expensive land area around Dodds Prison, in my mind the prison should be self-sufficient at least in food. There is too much land around Dodds that the prisoners cannot do agriculture - they use to do it along the highway years ago. We have the debushing programmes that the government is trying its best to find money for - there are prisoners up there playing cards and dominoes, use them, that should be part of the punishment. 

"They should be able to provide themselves with food, animal husbandry, agriculture, things like that need to be enforced in the prisons to take the burden off of the public sector."

She also stressed that measures need to be developed to better help persons leaving prison assimilate into the Barbadian society:

"We need to get a parole system apart from the education, to get these persons flowing back into society as seamlessly as possible."

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