BASSETERRE, St. Kitts - OVERCROWDING at Her Majesty's Prison in the twin-island Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis has been a major concern for a number of years as the establishment was originally built to house only 60 prisoners, but is home to more than 200.
While a new facility to better house the criminals has been the talk for quite some time, a new initiative to ease the numbers at the prison was recently put forth.
On Wednesday (Feb 19) at a press conference held by the Cabinet, Attorney General the Hon. Jason Hamilton announced his Chambers' plans to establish a Parole Act.
Hamilton explained that the Act would accommodate those convicts who are not a threat to society as well as those who are considered rehabilitated but their sentence has not completed.
"It is hoped that by introducing a Parole Act, you can have persons who are not as threatening to society that are now subject to incarceration, they can serve some form of parole or be eligible for some form of parole and that can have some implications on the numbers that are housed in the prison."
Regarding sentencing and rehabilitation, Hamilton said that individuals sent to prison for crimes that did not involve violence should not have to serve out their sentence but could instead be released early, so long as they meet the Parole requirements.
He said the Ministry of Justice was in the process of looking at monitoring systems as a means of putting the necessary measures in place to ensure the proper 'rolling out' of the Act.
"Again, in the spirit of rehabilitation, we don't think that everyone who necessarily is sentenced, especially for non-violent offences, should have to serve the full time like that and there is consideration as to what you can do to qualify to be released early.
"Of course, that requires some monitoring of the person once they are released and so the Ministry of Justice and Legal Affairs has just received some proposals regarding some monitoring systems for persons who might be eligible for parole."
Parole is defined as the temporary release of a prisoner for a special purpose or permanently before the completion of a sentence, on the promise of good behaviour.