Prison and detention center conditions failed to meet international standards in some areas, and conditions at the government’s only prison remained harsh due to overcrowding.
Physical Conditions: Overcrowding, poor sanitation, and inadequate access to medical care remained problems in the men’s maximum-security block. In October the commissioner of corrections reported the maximum-security wing of the prison held 625 inmates in spaces designed to hold approximately 375 inmates when constructed in 1953.
Food supplies were adequate, but meals were often served in unsanitary buckets. A few cells lacked running water, and in those cells, inmates removed human waste by bucket.
Prison guards complained about the lack of a full-time dentist and a failure to appoint a staff psychiatrist.
There were four inmate deaths through October, reportedly due to HIV infection, natural causes, an apparent suicide, and injuries resulting from fighting. Reports from the coroner’s court were pending on the latter two deaths.
In January two-thirds of immigration officers working at the Carmichael Road Detention Center (CRDC) staged a sick-out to protest working conditions that included mold- and rat-infested conditions, no running water in many areas, and structurally unsound buildings. A February resolution of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights stated that inmates at the CRDC “appear to be in a serious and urgent situation that places their lives and physical integrity at risk.”
The government made little progress in its case against five Royal Bahamas Defense Force (BDF) marines who in 2013 allegedly beat five Cuban detainees with batons and pipes at the CRDC. The government reported only that the case was still “before the courts.”
Administration: The Department of Correctional Service (DCS) stated that prisoner complaints generally related to pretrial detention duration, heat in cells, request for change in housing unit, timely medical care, food quality, and timely cleaning of bedding materials and/or clothing. Through October 1, authorities reported 717 preliminary inquiries and investigations of staff and inmates. An independent authority does not exist to investigate credible allegations of inhumane conditions.
Alternative sentencing for nonviolent offenders was available for juveniles and substance abusers.
Migrant detainees did not have access to an ombudsman or other means of submitting uncensored complaints, except through their national embassy or consulate.
Independent Monitoring: Human rights organizations complained that the government did not consistently grant requests by independent human rights observers for access to the DCS, the CRDC, and the two juvenile centers. The government maintained additional bureaucratic procedures for some civil society organizations to gain access to the detention center, making it difficult to visit detainees on a regular basis. The government denied multiple official requests for consular access to the CRDC to assess conditions. The government reported that it approved all three requests it received from nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to visit the DCS during the year.
Improvements: Through October the DCS commissioner reported extensive renovations to the Eastern Block of Maximum Security, with the cells outfitted with flushing toilets, bedding, and televisions. Additionally, the DCS implemented 120 hours of mandatory staff training and established a Health and Safety Unit and a Compliance Unit within the prison.