According to the Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM) there are at least 7 persons who have been kept behind bars for 40 or more years without being convicted of any crime.
The number falls amongst 146 persons in prisonafter being accused of different crimes. They are being held at the discretion of the court or the governor general or because they were deemed not fit to plead.
Terrence Williams, Commissioner of INDECOM, has emphasized that this occurance represents a systematic failure; and that the mentally ill is a vulnerable group amongst the population of the prisoners and are in need of attention.
INDECOM is recommending several changes to address the root causes of the issues.
The recommendations include:
• An examination by conducted by the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions of existing cases for those unfit to plead. The DPP would determine if there is still a viable prosecution available against the accussed.
• Implementing systems that ensure the timely review of unfit to plead cases.
• Reinstatement of the forensic psychiatric ward of Bellevue Hospital or the creation of a similar type of facility to hold those deemed not fit to plead.
• The hiring of qualified professionals to ensure adequate treatment is provided and the training of correctional officers to lend support.
• In cases where no family member steps forward to assume responsibility; the correctional staff should take strict care to ensure the correction rules are observed.
• Upon release, a written apology should be provided by the State along with compensation. Where death occurred, compensation should be awarded to the family.