The Bordelais Correctional Facility (BCF), Tuesday received seven prisoners from the British Virgin Islands (BVI) and three from the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI).
With seven BVI prisoners having already arrived here Monday, the local prison is currently home to a total of 17 inmates from the two British overseas territories.
Director of Corrections, Verne Garde, told St Lucia Times that because the region has been in ‘a bit of despair’, the BCF , which he described as ‘quite a dynamic holding area’, had been called on to assist.
“We are able to be flexible with regard to the numbers,” the Director of Corrections asserted.
He explained that the number of inmates at the prison about two and a half years ago when he took over, stood at 674.
“Through the work with the judiciary and other complementary bodies, we were able to reduce this number to a record 518 inmates at the facility,” Garde stated.
(Prisoners being transported to BCF)
He told St Lucia Times it was the lowest number of inmates at the BCF in 11 years.
Garde observed that as a result, the BCF is well within the capacity to be flexible with regard to inmate numbers.
“It is not an issue for us to house high risk inmates – we have done so before. It is not something that we are not accustomed to,” the Director of Corrections noted.
He recalled that in 2004 the BCF successfully housed 40 Grenadian nationals of various risk levels.
Garde disclosed that currently, the BCF has set up a special unit within its 9 unit facility to manage the latest visitors.
“ We are getting support from the British government with respect to doing this,” Garde said.
He explained that the foreign prisoners will be allowed normal visitation rights – one visit per month in addition to one telephone call per week.
Garde said he gave instructions for the prisoners who arrived here on Monday from the BVI to be allowed to contact their relatives by telephone.
“The situation in the Caribbean is dynamic. We have to be here for our brother and sister nations,” he said.
According to the Director of Corrections, the arrangements that have been made so far can allow the BCF to house the BVI and TCI prisoners for an ‘indefinite’ period, until the necessary structures are put in place in the BVI and TCI to allow those British overseas territories to manage their situation.
However he refused to be drawn on how many foreign inmates will eventually be accepted by the BCF.
“In law enforcement, we have to be very strategic,” Garde told St Lucia Times, adding that the BCF was not at liberty to disclose operational matters.
However he promised to keep the media updated as information becomes available.