Human Rights advocate Mary Francis has expressed concern over the high remand population at the Bordelais Correctional Facility (BCF), noting that obtaining mattresses for inmates and beefing up security is just part of the problem.
Francis spoke in response to Home Affairs Minister Dr. Virginia Albert-Poyotte’s disclosure that the government bought about 100 new mattresses for the inmates to improve the prison and address its concerns.
The Minister said the government was spending ten million dollars in additional funding for the BCF.
Part of the money is paying for re-fencing, which has already started.
In addition, the money has provided cameras, locks, and other items to beef up prison security.
Mary Francis told St. Lucia Times that the government may have responded to agitation by Correctional Officers for better conditions.
However, the National Centre for Legal Aid and Human Rights Coordinator said she was concerned about the BCF’s high remand population.
The remand block of the prison currently houses 388 individuals, including 13 females.
Francis noted that the remand population and Correctional Officers at the BCF must be frustrated.
“Something has to be done to see whether the numbers can come down. Those who are on remand, try and bring forward their cases,” the outspoken Attorney at Law told St. Lucia Times.
Francis felt the Home Affairs Minister could try to pressure Prime Minister Philip J. Pierre, responsible for National Security, to ensure the justice system works.
She explained that the courts have not convicted persons on remand.
The Human Rights campaigner said that although she had heard of moves to fast-track the justice process, she and other Attorneys with whom she spoke were unaware of it.
As a result, Francis declared that the lives of those individuals on remand are in turmoil, constituting a serious human rights issue since some have been in prison for years.
She also spoke of the need for adequate infrastructure and training.
Amid increasing incarcerations for various offences, Francis thought there needed to be more Correctional Officers at the BCF.
In addition to the 388 remand prisoners, the BCF also houses 184 penal inmates.