Monday, June 04, 2001

The Prison in St Vincent No 2

Discussion Paper circulated to participants at the Sentencing Policy Conference held in the Judge’s Chambers, Court Room No 2, prior to the June 2001 Criminal Assizes.
1.           Internally, the Prison continues, since my last visit prior to the February Assizes, to be run entirely by the inmates.  The institution is completely controlled by a group of gang-leaders referred to by both the inmates and by the warders as “the Radicals.”  The Radicals decide which inmates sleep in which cells, who talks to whom, what the distribution of drugs and alcohol is to be, and at what cost, who will work and who will stay in the prison yard, who gets beaten and who gets stabbed.  The warders remain outside of the Prison yard.  In practice, they only provide a ring around the men inside, who live subject only to gang regulation.  The Prison continues to be awash with blood nearly every day.  The Radicals order the nails and teeth of inmates to be pulled as routine punishments.  Beatings, rapes, stabbings and arm-breakings are standard conditions of living in the Prison.  There is no reason to believe that HIV prevalence has reduced from the 40% level reported in February.  Drugs, money, weapons and alcohol continue to pour over the walls and through the gate.  The Acting Superintendent reports that certain warders co-operate with the convicts.  They allow all forms of contraband through the main gate.  He says they do this sometimes for money and sometimes from fear of certain gang members.

Attitude of Warders

2.           The warders no longer patrol the internal prison yard, either in the day or in the night.  They stay outside the gate, except when their senior officers force them inside.  They only venture inside in large patrols, and for short periods of time.  The warders can see when an inmate is having his teeth extracted with pliers or a hammer and nail, or his limbs broken with bed-boards.  They consider themselves powerless to intervene.  This has happened right up against the gate that separates the inmates from the warders.  The warders have been afraid to open the gate to rescue the inmate being assaulted.  Inmates are beaten into unconsciousness by other inmates in front of warders.  Out of fear they do nothing to intervene.  Their lives as well as the inmates’ lives are continuously at risk.  On the day of my visit to the Prison, 5 inmates were reported by the Acting Superintendent to have been hospitalized for serious injuries.  The warders who had observed the altercation in question are reported to have locked the men involved in a cell and told them to go ahead and kill themselves.  No proceedings are expected to be brought against any of the convicts or the warders in question.  In terms of conditions prevailing at the Prison, there was nothing unusual or exceptional in the incident.  There is unlikely to be any written record made anywhere of the incident, or of the wounds given and received by the inmates.

Incidents Book

3.           No report is made by any warder of any mutinous or violent assault committed by any inmate in his presence.  There is in effect no requirement on the part of the prison authorities that such incidents be reported or proceedings brought against the offenders.  No mechanism presently exists for making any such report.  The “Incidents Book” for reporting such matters has not been kept for some years.  No record of any injuries is kept by the warders.  No punishments are imposed by the Superintendent or the visiting justices.  Criminal charges are not routinely brought for criminal offences committed by inmates.

Enforcement of Rules

4.           None of the existing Prison Rules designed for the good management and governance of the Prison and the inmates appear to be enforced.  The Rules are not discussed among the warders or the inmates.  No copy was immediately available for inspection on the visit to the Prison.  There is no need to make new Rules.  The present Rules have to be circulated and discussed and strictly enforced if the situation in the Prison is to be improved.  The existing Rules, if enforced, could bring about a transformation of conditions in the Prison. 

Medical Facilities

5.         There is a Doctor’s Record kept by the Prison Doctor.  It is mainly used for recording prescriptions of medication.  The medical authorities do not regularly fill these prescriptions.  The authorities seldom deliver the medication prescribed by the Prison Doctor to the inmates in question.  The Acting Superintendent has stated publicly that in the absence of official supplies, he had personally spent thousands of dollars out of his own pocket over the past two years providing inmates with vital drugs for diabetes and other chronic illnesses they suffered.  The convicts I spoke to confirm that the claim is true.
6.           The Prison Clinic under construction on my last visit in February is still incomplete.  There is no facility at the prison to treat injuries.  Battered and wounded inmates cannot be treated in any way at the Prison.  They have to wait for many hours after their beatings for transport to be organized to take them to the casualty department at the public hospital. 
7.           The previous Prison Doctor has ceased regular visits to the Prison.  It is thought she has been transferred.  I was told that it is believed that a new doctor has been assigned to the Prison.  He has not visited in the several weeks since the previous doctor ceased attending. 
8.           The completion and equipping of the Clinic, the resumption of regular medical visits, the immediate compliance with directions given by the doctor, and the taking of sensible and practical measures to reduce the risk of transmission of the HIV virus, will go a long way to making conditions in the Prison more humane.

Visiting Justices

9.           The warders reported that no visiting justices have enforced the Prison Rules at the Kingstown Prison for many years.  Only the visiting justices can impose the punishments for serious infractions provided by the Prison Rules.  In the absence of a professionally functioning and well-trained board of visiting justices, the Prison Rules cannot realistically be expected to be enforced. 
10.       The Acting Superintendent reports that the visiting justices have not been to visit the inmates for several months, certainly not since either the last sitting of the Court of Appeal or of the last Assizes. 
11.       The Court of Appeal, at its last sitting in St Vincent in February past, ordered the visiting justices to prepare and submit to the Court a Report on Prison Conditions.  The Court of Appeal next sits in July.  In my visit to the Prison I enquired on how the report was progressing.  I was informed that the Report has not been completed.  It is not expected to be completed for presentation to the next sitting of the Court of Appeal.  I was told that the chairperson of the visiting justices had been preparing the report.  I was told that before she could complete her report, general elections had resulted in a change of administration, and she had been dismissed as a JP.  She will no longer be able to complete the Report.  No one at the Prison could inform me whether there was presently a new chairman or a functioning board of visiting justices.

Inadequate Facilities

12.       There appear to be two principal causes of the present unacceptable state of affairs at the Prison.  The first is that the building and facilities are under-funded and inadequate.  There is an unacceptable lack of provision by the authorities of minimal financial, human, and material resources for the Prison.  Two token examples can be given.  First, the food of the men is still cooked on open wood-fuelled fires in the prison yard.  The modern kitchen built at the initiative of the present Acting Superintendent remains unequipped and unused.  Secondly, the men mainly sleep on the concrete floors of their cells.  Their beds are unusable because they lack wooden slats on the beds.  These are removed by gang leaders to be used as weapons or for illicit cooking in the cells during the nights.  The other unacceptable physical conditions described in the last Assizes as a result of my first visit to the Prison in February, remain unalleviated.

Lack of Professionalism

13.     The second cause of the unacceptable state of affairs at the Prison is the complete lack of professional training for the warders.  None of them has ever received any kind of training, according to what I have been told.  There is an Acting Prison Superintendent at the Prison.  The Acting Superintendent is a retired police officer with no previous experience in running a prison.  The presently vacant post of Superintendent of Prisons has not been advertised.  The Acting Superintendent tells me that no one is presently away at an appropriate institution studying to fill the post.  The last time any warder is said to have received any training was in about the year 1984.  As a result, none of the warders has any idea of the most basic techniques for maintaining order and discipline in a prison.  The warders do not enforce any Rules.  They do not appear to be aware of the Prison Rules.  Some of them are said to be unable to read and write. 
14.       Those warders with ability and motivation should be sent away on attachments at better-run prisons in our region so they can learn how to perform their duties.  If the aid agencies provide foreign training for prison officers, their assistance should be accepted.  For the conditions in the Prison to improve, it is essential that the science of prison management and prisoner control be taught and enforced.  The authorities should consider enforcing a zero tolerance to crime and insubordination regime in the Prison.

Lack of Discipline

15.     The Acting Superintendent reports that the warders do not obey his instructions.  He is a retired police Superintendent, and not “one of them.”  He finds himself powerless to discipline mutinous warders.  When he attempts to do so, they claim to be civil servants and only amenable to the Public Service Commission.  He complains there are no rules made for the disciplining of warders that he can enforce. 
16.       Some of the warders yearn for the good old days when the Superintendent ruled the prison by terror and extremely violent methods.  The methods used then, they say, may have been illegal, but the warders and inmates were safe from the level of violence now current. 
17.       No pending charge against any mutinous warder has been brought to my attention.  If any charges do exist, they are not being pursued.
18.       This is a completely unacceptable state of affairs.  There is an urgent need for the authorities to weed out the bad eggs from among the warders.  They need to be prosecuted and dismissed if convicted.  They need to be replaced by properly motivated and trained new officers.  If the existing Prison Rules for ensuring discipline continue not to be enforced, the future will remain bleak.  The provision of a new Prison without a completely new attitude among the warders will be a complete waste of time. 

Lack of Security

19.       The newspapers report that the police have been stepping up their raids on the Prison.  Each raid continues to see the confiscation of ever increasing volumes of contraband.  This includes not only drugs, alcohol, and money, but also weapons.  More frequent Police raids on the Prison are called for.  Security at the gate needs to be stepped up.  Detachments of police officers need to be on permanent duty at the Prison.  They need to be stationed both inside and outside the Prison.  They need to be there in rotation over 24 hours a day for the foreseeable future.  They will need to remain there until the prison is properly staffed with trained warders, and the prisoners have been brought under discipline.  Their duty would not be to enforce Prison Rules.  Their duty would be to apprehend and prosecute persons committing crimes.  Violent acts would be investigated and prosecuted.  Inmates found with contraband would be prosecuted.  Warders who permit the introduction of contraband would be investigated and disciplined by the appropriate authority.  Warders committing offences would be prosecuted and dismissed if convicted.  Members of the public who introduce contraband must be prosecuted and punished.  So long as the authorities fail to enforce the law, and continue to permit the Prison Rules to be ignored, the Prison remains unsafe as a place of incarceration for the normal convicted person.

II – Comments on Fining

20.       This court will need to be particularly sensitive in future when imposing a fine.  There is no point in imposing a fine that cannot be paid.  If there is no means to pay the fine, it is preferable that some other penalty be imposed.  If the convict is to be imprisoned, it is better that that penalty be as a result of its deliberate selection by the court. 
21.       It is not proper that some person other than the judge or magistrate decides which convict will be sent to prison for failure to pay a fine, and which other convicted person will be given the favour of remaining at liberty.  That state of affairs is illegal.  It removes the sentence of imprisonment from the judiciary and transfers it to officers of the executive. 
22.       Ours is an impoverished nation.  Most employed persons in this community earn only EC$20.00 per day.  Most convicts come from the poorest class of persons.  Few of them can afford to pay any but the most trivial of fines.  In future, only if this court has thoroughly investigated the means of a convicted person, and is satisfied as to his ability to pay a fine, will a fine, with a term of imprisonment in default, be imposed.  Giving an unemployed man time to pay a fine is no solution. 
23.       In cases where a fine is the chosen penalty for a particular offence, the court must adopt exceptional devices to ensure that an imposed fine can be paid.  For example, the court may consider delaying imposing the fine until the convicted person appears in court at a later date with money in his pocket.  In that way, the proposed fine can reasonably be imposed with every expectation that it will be paid.  If the person is unable to appear before the court with adequate funds in his possession, then the court must deliberately consider whether a sentence of imprisonment or some other penalty is appropriate.  It will not be a just sentence to let the convicted person got to Prison more or less by accident.

III – Comments on Probation

24.       The Probation Department has not had its situation improved since the last Assizes.  The members still perform all the social welfare activities of the government.  They are still without resources to provide probationary supervision.  No probation service other than counseling can be performed.  Due to the lack of transportation, they cannot visit probationers.  Only if a person on probation is so considerate as to visit the office will he receive a little counselling.  This is not the intention or purpose of a probation order.

IV – Comments on Remand Prisoners

25.       Given the conditions described above, only the most hardened and violent criminals should normally expect to be imprisoned in the existing facility.  My visit revealed that a large portion of the inmates continue to be very young men.  The Superintendent reported that over 30 of the 270 inmates there in the Prison at the time of the visit were on remand.  These are men who have not yet been convicted of any offence.  They are awaiting their trial.  Meanwhile, they are being mixed in among the convicted murderers and robbers.  Very bad things are happening to them both mentally and physically that were never intended.
26.       Many of those on remand at the time of my visit appeared to be first-time offenders.  Many of the inmates continue to be very young persons.  Even in normal circumstances, young persons and first-time offenders are seldom, if ever, sent to prison.  Only the most violent and serious of offences would warrant imprisonment in the case of a first offence.  Many of these young first-time offenders may be in Prison only for failing to pay an unrealistically high fine, and not as a deliberate decision to sentence them to a term of imprisonment.
27.       One of the ancient powers of a judge at the criminal Assizes has always been to clear the Prison of persons who are illegally held there.  This power was originally given to the judge by a special Writ of Gaol Delivery.  Now, it is an inherent part of his powers during the Assizes.  A token of its original function remains in a ritual performed at the end of each Assizes.  Then, the Superintendent of Prisons makes a Prison Return to the judge.  He reports on how many inmates are in his custody.  Normally, the judge just listens to the Return and nods his head.  It is now time to bring the process back to something of its original purpose. 
28.       During the course of the coming Assizes, I intend to have the Superintendent of Prisons report on every prisoner on remand in the Prison.  I shall want to know what each prisoner is on remand for.  I shall want to know how long he has been on remand.  All but those who qualify, as repeated and violent criminals, for continued incarceration in the present facility will be ordered released on bail if they have been on remand for more than a few days.  To ensure the Prison remains permanently cleared of unsuitable inmates, I intend to go through the same procedure every week until the end of the Assizes.  If I discover it to be permissible, I would continue to clear the Prison of all but the most violent remanded persons every week in between the Assizes, until conditions have returned to an acceptable level.

4 June 2001

Friday, February 16, 2001

The Prison in St Vincent. No 1

Statement made on 16 February 2001 when delivering sentence in relation to several men accused of murder on various occasions but whose pleas of guilty to manslaughter the prosecution and the court accepted, at the February 2001 Assizes at Kingstown in St Vincent and the Grenadines.  The men were all young men, first time offenders and of previous good character, and who had each spent several years on remand since the date of their offences.  They were all sentenced to short terms of imprisonment, the effect of which was their immediate release from prison.
Later the same year, Barrister at Law Dr Ralph Gonsalves having assumed the Prime Ministership, the Judicial and Legal Services Commission suddenly, and without explanation, removed me from St Vincent and the Grenadines, and relocated me to the State of Antigua and Barbuda.  I am sure there was no connection between the remarks made below and the relocation in question. 
Within the next several years, after an inquiry and Report by Sir David Ramsbotham, previous Chief Inspector of Prisons for England and Wales, a new minimum-security prison was constructed in the countryside of St Vincent, though the old Prison continued to be used for prisoners considered to be high security risks.
1.   The law of this country is that there are certain offences which are so serious that the penalty for committing them should be a sentence of imprisonment.  In prison, it is intended that the convicted person can learn the discipline and rules of good conduct that he missed out on in his earlier years.  The end product of a prison is that when the inmate leaves it he should have become a disciplined, useful and productive member of society.
2.   In order for a judge to be able to sentence a person to a term of imprisonment, there must of necessity be a prison.  A prison is a place of isolation from the community, where persons who seriously offend against the laws of the community are sent as a punishment and for rehabilitation.
3.   When a person is sentenced to a term of imprisonment, that confinement in a prison constitutes the punishment.  A person who is imprisoned has his liberty taken away from him.  He has to obey strict rules that limit his previous freedom.  It is the simple deprivation of liberty and the other restrictions on his previous freedom that is the punishment of imprisonment.  That is the only punishment a man should suffer when he is imprisoned.  Anything else is illegal.
4.   In any country that lays claim to be civilized, the minimum provision for judicial custody involves that, in addition to any necessary “high-security facility,” there must exist some separate suitable safe rehabilitative prison facility for non-violent prisoners to be housed in and to serve out the term of their sentence. 
5.   Persons who have been remanded in custody to come up for their trial have not yet been convicted of any offence.  Under our system of justice, they are presumed to be innocent until found guilty by a court.  These persons on remand should not be mixed in with hardened criminals for the obvious reasons.  As a basic minimum they are always expected to be detained in quarters that are separate from the most serious offenders who have been sentenced to long terms of imprisonment.  It may even be considered illegal for persons on remand to be housed in the same quarters as convicted prisoners, and to be subject to the same conditions as convicted prisoners. 
6.   Having heard the frequent stories, and read the ongoing newspaper articles, of gang rule, gang rapes, beatings, knifings and murders, drugs and alcohol, in Her Majesty’s Prison in Kingstown, I was curious as to whether there is in fact a prison in St Vincent and the Grenadines to which a judge could properly sentence a person as punishment for having committed a serious criminal offence for which a term or imprisonment would be an appropriate sentence.
7.   I have been over to inspect Her Majesty’s Prison in Kingstown.  The warders have shown me every room and facility that exists in the male prison in Kingstown.  I have spoken both to warders and to prisoners who have been free in describing conditions in the prison.
8.   It seems that the Prison was originally built to accommodate less than 100 persons.  With the various additions that have been built recently, it can hold an absolute maximum of 250 persons.  It presently houses some 300 persons.  Conditions have been improving under the present Superintendent and his staff, who have brought the numbers down from a recent high of 450 prisoners, but the Prison remains severely overcrowded.  Most of the prisoners are housed 40 men at a time into the typical cell.  The smallest cell is death row.  Death row is a room in which the 5 men who have been convicted of death are presently housed in dormitory conditions.  There are no single cells.  Even the old punishment cell has been converted into use as a regular cell.  The root cause of the problems in the prison may be laid down to this one problem of excessive numbers in too small a place.  Until that problem is solved, it may prove difficult to improve conditions.
9.   The prison is presently very unhygienic.  The conditions at night with such large numbers of men in each cell can hardly be imagined.  Many of the cells have neither working toilets nor showers.  There are some toilets, but many of these have been damaged in violent incidents in the cells.  The men in each cell without a toilet must defecate and urinate in buckets placed on the floor of the cell.  These buckets must wait until the following morning to be emptied.  The Warders and prisoners have described the odour in each cell in the night as unbearable.  In the prison courtyard, and available for day-time use by all 300 prisoners, there is one large open pit latrine.  The men must use this squatting shoulder to shoulder.  Most of the cells have a shower for use during the night.  During the day the men shower in the open courtyard in full view of other prisoners.
10.               Violence is endemic.  Persons are frequently and routinely beaten by other prisoners for real or imagined offences, until their bones are broken.  I have personally seen persons in the Prison with terrible injuries suffered within the previous 24 hours before I arrived.  Knifings and stabbings I am assured, and I accept, are commonplace.  Each prisoner, I have been assured, must expect to be stabbed sometime during his sentence.  Some security is found only within a gang. 
11.               Within the past month, 2 prisoners who were implicated in the injuring of the popular Superintendent of Prisons were murdered by a large gang of prisoners.  After the incident, they had been locked by the Warders in the one safe cell in the Prison for their own protection.  In spite of this, their locked door was broken open and their throats were cut.  Any prisoner who leaves prison at the end of his term, and who does not throw weapons, drugs and alcohol over the prison wall for use by his gang, will be beaten severely if, as frequently happens, he should ever return to the prison.  As a result, rum, drugs, and weapons proliferate in the prison.  Every young and new prisoner entering the prison population is beaten until he gives up his shoes, shirts and trousers.  Sporadic and infrequent searches by the police do not touch the tip of the iceberg of weapons and drugs circulating in the prison. 
12.               The danger is aggravated as violent psychotic patients are housed with the general prisoners.  There are no separate facilities for housing and treating violent psychotic patients.  These persons are stored in the general prison population with little treatment and no hope of recovery.  It was one such psychotic patient who is alleged to have recently stabbed the Superintendent of Prisons and who was one of the two prisoners murdered.
13.               Sexual violence is pervasive.  I have been told that about 50% of the men engage in sexual activity.  Any young person who is sent to prison is continuously harassed by certain aggressive homosexual predators.  Young prisoners are in constant danger of rape during the day and at night.  Rape of young and unwilling prisoners is a common practice in the prison.  The gang-leaders and warders to whom I talked assure me that any child molester, rapist, or other sex offender sentenced to prison is guaranteed repeated gang-rape, beatings, stabbings, and worse.  There is nothing the Warders can do to protect such prisoners from abuse.  Some security is found only in being a member of a gang.
14.               The Warders and prisoners estimate that over 40% of the men in prison today are HIV-positive.  This is an unscientific estimate.  However, no HIV testing is done routinely to discover the rate of infection.  Cases of TB exist in the prison.  TB is today most frequently associated with the terminal stages of Aids.  It is an infectious disease, and a serious health risk for all prisoners and Warders exposed to it.  Given the violence in the prison, HIV infection is a risk for Warders as well as other prisoners.  The seriously ill prisoner cannot be isolated in a prison such as we have in St Vincent.  There are no facilities for such care.  Condoms, which are an obvious, safe and inexpensive aid in alleviating the problem, are not available to the prisoners because of morality concerns. 
15.               There is no recreational facility in the prison.  There is no space in the prison for anything more than one ping-pong table out in the tiny general courtyard.  There are no sports, no magazines, no TV, no radio, no education, no rehabilitation, no recreation, and very little constructive activity.  There is no recreation room, nor any recreation equipment of any kind.  The original prison chapel has been converted into 3 cells.  After the men have been let out of their cells each morning, all that the men can do all day long while they are in prison is to sit around.  They have nothing to do except to discuss the various crimes for which they have been convicted, and the techniques of evasion and escape.  The prison is a university of crime.
16.               There is no room, nor any hope that room can be found in the present facility to separate out the men into different groups.  Men on remand but not yet convicted of any offence are routinely housed in the general population of convicts.  Men convicted of the most serious offences of manslaughter, rape, unlawful wounding, and burglary mix freely with non-violent offenders and persons remanded into custody but not yet convicted of any crime.  Young men are housed in the same cells as older, predatory homosexual rapists.  Only membership in a gang affords any protection.
17.               All cooking of meals in Her Majesty’s Prison is done on open wood fires in a kitchen shed.  The prisoners’ food is prepared in the same sort of iron utensils suspended over a wood fire as were used in the West Indies in days of slavery to manufacture muscovado sugar.  The Superintendent presently has under construction a fine modern kitchen, and I hope that one day it will become operational.  The present cooking conditions, however, are unacceptable for human beings.
18.               There is no clinic or hospital room in the prison.  Prisoners who have been stabbed or had limbs broken in beatings have to wait until transport can be found to carry them under guard to the Hospital.  The Superintendent presently has certain masons and carpenters among the prisoners constructing a small clinic in the Prison.  I hope that one day it will be furnished and become operational. 
19.               There is, generally speaking, no work that the imprisoned men in the Kingstown Prison are provided with that will result in their earning any money for use when they are released from prison.  The Prison Keepers personally assist a few favoured prisoners in getting work and in opening bank accounts to save their earnings.  But, the mass of prisoners have absolutely nothing constructive to do all day long for the entire term of their sentence.  They are released eventually from prison with the barest of clothing, and not a penny in their pockets, and with no hope of integration back into society.
20.               Warders are underpaid, under-staffed, and over-worked in the most horrible and dangerous of conditions.  Requests by the prison management for an increase in staffing and an improvement in conditions to relieve the situation have gone unheeded.  No training of warders has been possible for a very long time.  I am told that the prison cannot take up the offers of training as they become available because, if several warders go to a training session, the prisoners must be confined to their cells and mayhem would rule. 
21.               The illiteracy rate in St Vincent is variously given as anywhere between 10% to 50%, depending on the age group considered.  Young people make up the majority of the prison population.  Amongst this group I understand that the illiteracy rate is nearer the 10% range.  Yet, the warders and prisoners are in agreement that in prison only about 5% of all prisoners can read or write.  This suggests that only the poorest and most disadvantaged members of Vincentian society are being sent to prison.  Prison is a place where offenders from the poorest and most defenceless class of persons are routinely thrown away and forgotten.  If this is true, then the Prison of St Vincent and the Grenadines is a feature of some of the most oppressive forms of discrimination, exploitation, and disadvantage.  Anyone with money, no matter how serious his offence, can, it seems, hire the best defence to keep out of prison.  Prison is not an option for criminal offenders from the middle class of this State.  It may well be that conditions in the prison cannot reasonably be expected to be improved until large numbers of the middle class are committed to it.  Only then is it likely that the conditions in the prison will become a matter of concern for those in authority.
22.               A real prison is not a place where a person is meant to be sent to be subject to inhuman punishment.  A man is not sent to prison to be repeatedly beaten, stabbed, raped, exposed to fatal and incurable diseases, and eventually murdered.  We have abolished torture and humiliation in St Vincent and the Grenadines.  It is illegal in this State to subject a person to conditions of torture.
23.               It is not acceptable that prison is a place where class differences are enshrined and exaggerated.  It is unacceptable that prison is treated merely as a place to discard the throw-away members of the poorest class of Vincentians. 
24.               The near 50% of the men in the prison who are engaged in homosexual acts are presumably not by nature homosexuals.  They are in reality heterosexuals, pressed, in some cases by threats and acts of violence, into homosexual acts.  It has been observed that many of them are pressured by the urges of human nature, inevitable among young men and in situations of large numbers of men forced into intimate contact with no diversion of any kind, into homosexual acts.  When these men get out of prison, a large proportion of them, nearly 40% I am told, will be HIV positive.  They will re-enter Vincentian society.  They resume co-habitation with their wives and girlfriends.  When they later return to prison, as is only too common, their now HIV-positive girlfriends will find new sex partners in the community.  It cannot be surprising that we hear on the radio and TV that St Vincent presently has one of the highest HIV-positive ratings of all the States in the OECS.  The prison is a festering ground for HIV infection.
25.               As a result of all the above, I have some doubt that there exists at present in the State of St Vincent and the Grenadines a prison to which I may properly sentence any man to a term of imprisonment as a punishment for any offence, no matter how severe.
26.               Until conditions change, it would appear that a judge should have serious concerns in sentencing to be confined in Her Majesty’s prison in Kingstown any those men who are such a clear and present life-threatening danger to their community that they cannot as a matter of public safety be allowed to remain at liberty.  The confinement in such a case will serve the purpose of protecting society, not of constituting a punishment for the convicted person in question.
27.               Given the conditions described above, the question arises whether it is proper to remand persons not yet convicted of any offence to Her Majesty’s Prison in Kingstown.  It would seem that the safest course of action for me to follow in dealing with persons who would normally be expected to be placed on remand, until I shall have been satisfied that a suitable facility has been made available, might be to release all such persons on bail with suitable conditions as may appear appropriate in each case.
28.               It is in the light of the above that I now propose to consider what other options exist by way of penalties for persons convicted of serious criminal charges in St Vincent and the Grenadines.
29.               The law provides for fines to be imposed.  St Vincent and the Grenadines is one of the poorest nations in the Western Hemisphere.  Unemployment and illiteracy rates are high, particularly in the rural areas.  Many of the persons who appear before the court are unemployed.  They do not possess any income, savings, valuable possessions, or other reserves to be able to pay a fine.  When a fine is not paid the Magistrate or Judge issues a warrant to pick up the person and commit him to prison for not paying the fine.  The police know that the fine was not paid due to poverty, not malice.  The result is that hundreds of outstanding warrants are quietly stored in a desk drawer.  The police have not been able to execute the warrants.  They are only too well aware that there is no room in the prison for these defaulters.  In these cases, where poor persons have been fined, no real penalty has been imposed, because the men fined know that they will not be picked up when they fail to pay the fines and warrants are issued for their arrest.  One has to question whether the option of ordering a fine or compensation to be paid by someone who is not clearly able to pay the fine is realistically open. 
30.               The Probation Department exists under the Probation of Offenders Act.  The officers of that Department have explained to me that they have the title of Probation Officers.  The Probation Officers have many duties.  They take care of all cases of child abuse, poor relief, abused women, and all welfare matters in the State.  Their duties are much more extensive than mere Probation Officers.  The Department has an office in Kingstown, but no extension workers in the outlying districts.  They have no office transport to get to probationers inside, far less outside, Kingstown.  They lack any other facilities to assist in carrying out probation duties.  The office is presently severely understaffed for the existing welfare work.  Only counselling is offered to persons on probation, no supervision of any kind is possible.  If a court puts a person in Kingstown on probation, then if that person happens to drop by the office, he will receive a little counselling.  If he lives in the country and cannot drop by the office, then no counselling or supervision of any kind can be carried out.  One has to ask whether probation orders are not, then, an entire waste of time.  Can a court properly impose the duties of probation on such heavily overworked officers who lack the most basic means to carry out the order of the court?  There is a basic rule that a court should not make an order that it knows is incapable of being carried out. 
31.               Community Service Orders have been under discussion for some time now.  I understand that the proposed legislation for community service orders is not yet in place.  Only the traditional sentences exist. 
32.               The remaining traditional sentences provided for by law include:
(a) supervision order: s.20
(b) payment of compensation: s.27
(c) payment of costs of the prosecution: s.27
(d) suspended sentence: s.30
(e) forfeiture of the proceeds of crime: s.32
(f)  forfeiture of articles involved in the offence: s.33
(g) security for keeping the peace: s.34
(h) security for coming up for judgment: s.35
(i)   discharge without punishment: s.37
(j)   restitution: s.238
(k) corporal punishment under Corporal Punishment of Juveniles Act
33.       These limited varieties of sentences will have to be imaginatively applied by the Court until such time as the Legislature of St Vincent and the Grenadines provides the Court with more varied and modern options for sentencing of offenders for non-capital offences.