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Prison Overpopulation, ankle tagging part of solution

Prison Overpopulation, ankle tagging part of solution

Thursday 29 November 2018

Prison Overpopulation, ankle tagging part of solution

Thursday 29 November 2018


Tagging prisoners with ankle bracelets to put them on mandatory curfews at home is being considered as a solution to Guernsey's busy prison, which is reaching its maximum capacity.

Home Affairs is investigating the possibility of bringing in the new system to allow prisoners to be allowed out under an early release scheme, with the ankle tagging as a condition.

It would not be used as a form of punishment in itself yet, but Deputy Mary Lowe, Home Affairs President, said that would be a possibility as part of an overall review of the island's justice system which is set to take place.

Les Nicolles prison currently has 112 inmates, with a recent peak of 121. Its maximum capacity is 134 inmates, and it legally cannot accept any more than that.

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Pictured: Guernsey's prison has a maximum capacity of 134 inmates.

Deputy Lowe said projections show there is between 18 months and two years before the prison reaches that capacity, so her committee has been exploring a series of options to prevent that crisis point ever being reached.

"Yes there are serious concerns over the prison population, but we are looking at all options open to us alongside the prison governor," she said.

"We are also looking to see if Jersey will be able to assist us in anyway. It would require a great deal of legislation, particularly in Jersey. There would be lots of issues for us to overcome to actually get there, but conversations are taking place between the prison governors."

Tagging itself is something Home Affairs has been looking at for a while, but Deputy Lowe said of late, it had become increasingly important to investigate it as an option. 

"It is not a straight forward implementation though, there is obviously a cost to setting it all up, and then it will affect JESCC and the staffing there. If it is brought in, it will only be used for early release from prison, but it is another tool in the box that we might be able to use in the future."

les Nicolles prison

Les Nicolles has an overall capacity of 134, with just 13 spaces at the moment.

Les Nicolles itself has had an increasing population for some time now. Many of those inside are first time offenders, and the large majority are also on sentences longer than one year.

22 current inmates are there because they have breached parole, bail or community service, and that number alongside the number of inmates there while remanded in custody make up about one third of the population.

"It is important to recognise that pure figures on capacity do not tell the whole story. First, the prison is split into wings with multiple cells on each. Each wing can only be used for a particular category of prisoner, meaning different categories cannot be mixed on the same wing. Categories include females, vulnerable prisoners, eg sex offenders, ordinary prisoners, juveniles, etc," Deputy Lowe added.

"I also need to dispel the myth that the prison is full of short term prisoners who could otherwise have been serving some form of non-custodial sentence. The majority or prisoners are serving in excess of one year."

Pictured top: File image of an ankle bracelet. 

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