Prison conditions improved with the 2012 opening of the Belle Isle Correctional Facility but remained poor for prisoners held in Her Majesty’s Prison in Kingstown.
Physical Conditions: Belle Isle is designed to hold 288 inmates, with nine inmates per cell, in separate quarters for males and females. As of August the prison held 242 male inmates and no female inmates. Her Majesty’s Prison held an additional 189 prisoners in a building designed to hold 150. Authorities reported five prisoners to be HIV positive, only three of whom were receiving antiretroviral treatment. Prisoners had access to food and potable water.
The SVGHRA reported prison problems such as endemic violence, understaffing, underpaid guards, uncontrolled weapons and drugs, increasing incidence of HIV/AIDS, and unhygienic conditions. Living conditions in the newer Belle Isle facility represented a significant improvement over Her Majesty’s Prison. The SVGHRA also alleged that guards routinely beat prisoners to extract information regarding escapes, violence, and crime committed in the prison. Key problems included the inability to segregate prisoners, gangs, and contraband, including cell phones and drugs.
As of October the female-only Fort Charlotte Prison, where conditions were antiquated and unhygienic, held 11 inmates in a facility designed to hold 25 inmates.
With the opening of the Belle Island facility, authorities held most pretrial detainees separately from convicted prisoners. Authorities held young offenders (16 to 21 years of age), 10 percent of the total male prison population, with adult convicted prisoners.
Conditions were inadequate for juvenile offenders. Boys younger than 16 were held at the Liberty Lodge Boys’ Training Center, which takes in at-risk boys who can no longer stay at home due to domestic problems or involvement with criminal activity. Most of the boys were at the center because of domestic problems, and only a small number were charged with committing a crime. The police also reported they kept some young male offenders at the police station, where they lived and performed basic chores instead of being incarcerated.
Administration: Recordkeeping on prisoners was adequate. Courts often released nonviolent offenders on bond instead of sentencing them to prison terms. The conditions of the bond required good behavior on the part of the offender to avoid serving time in prison. Prisoners were free to practice any religion of their choosing, and authorities generally respected this right. Each convict could have one visitor per week. There were no limitations on visitors for pretrial detainees. Local churches organized weekly religious services. While there is no official prison ombudsman, a prison board composed of a magistrate and a justice of the peace visited all three prisons bimonthly. During their visits prisoners with complaints can speak directly to the board. In addition prisoners could file complaints by writing the court registrar who schedules court hearings.
Independent Monitoring: In addition to the prison board, the government permitted prison visits by independent human rights observers, and such visits took place during the year.