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Electronic monitoring and early release of prisoners under review

January 16th, 2022

The electronic monitoring of prisoners from Dodd’s Prison is under consideration by the Ministry of Home Affairs.

Minister of Home Affairs, Wilfred Abrahams, outlined this as he delivered the feature address during the Passing Out Parade of 21 new prison officers, 17 males and four females, at Dodd’s Prison, St Philip on Friday.

Noting that electronic monitoring was introduced in 30 countries worldwide, Mr. Abrahams explained that it was a generic plan that encompassed several monitoring techniques and approaches.

“It is a form of digital integration often in the form of a wrist bracelet or ankle shackle that can monitor an offender’s location. It is sometimes used to reduce the use of imprisonment, monitor compliance, reduce reoffending…thus reducing the prison population,” he pointed out.

 He added that electronic monitoring in some cases, allowed offenders to remain at home as if under a curfew and ensured that they did not go into certain areas prohibited as a condition of their release.

Furthermore, electronic monitoring, he said, would also ensure that offenders were at their proper place of work while on a community sentence, track juveniles, adults, and others in drug rehabilitation programmes, and individuals accused of or driving under the influence.

“It therefore provides an extra level of assurance and information to better understand a person’s movement and serve as part of the toolkit used to manage offenders which often includes regular risk assessments, rehabilitation programmes and positive community support,” Mr. Abrahams said.

He also described it as one way to reduce the prison population and overcrowding during challenging times.

First time offenders of minor crimes, those convicted of non-violent crimes or considered to be low risk offenders whose imprisonment would exacerbate their economic and social livelihoods, would be among those most likely to benefit from an electronic managed system.

Mr. Abrahams urged the new prison officers to be aware of new technologies and how they could be used to protect themselves and those in their care.

He also noted that the Ministry was presently examining the implications of the implementation of early release or parole to allow persons who qualified, the opportunity to spend part of their sentence outside of the prison setting.

“Once the requisite legislative amendments are in place this will become a reality in the not too distant future,” Mr. Abrahams stated.

During his address, the Minister urged the new prison officers to remain objective as they executed their duties and avoid forming attachments and showing favouritism.   He stressed that inmates in their charge were not their friends, but their wards, and their first loyalty should be to the prison.

He also gave them the assurance that as prison officers their roles were as important as any other in the criminal justice system, and they stood on par with the other armed forces.

“Each of you has a role to play,” Mr. Abrahams said, as he encouraged the officers to continue pursuing courses for their own self betterment. Four prison officers captured awards during the Passing Out Parade – Bret Rice, for Best at Drill; Israel Simpson, Best for Physical Training; Nakita Dixon, for Most Improved and Nicholi Cumberbatch, for Best Recruit

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