Prisoners want attention for Pointe Blanche shortcomings

POSTED: 03/10/11 12:25 PM

Inmates Association complains to Governor and Minister

St. Maarten – The Pointe Blanche Prison Inmates Association has petitioned the prison’s parole board, Justice Minister Roland Duncan and Governor Eugene Holiday to draw attention to the conditions in the penitentiary facility. They have asked for an audience with the parole board and the minister, and wrote a nine point letter to the Governor in which they explain the situation. Their biggest beef is with withdrawals of conditional release orders at the last moment.
“We have tried to discuss our complaints with the management of the prison, without any success,” the association’s board wrote in the letter, dated February 24th. They direct their complaints to the governor, “to point out the irregularities happening in this prison and hoping for change and improvement.”
The complaints and remarks are about hygiene, rehabilitation, guidance, recreation, cells, visits, ankle bracelets, early release and verdicts.
The association complains that food for the inmates is not prepared in a hygienic way, without the use of gloves and head covers, and that it is transported to the cells in “a rusty wheel barrow that is also used for the garbage.”
The association also points out that there is no rehabilitation and re-socialization program.
“The possibilities to study are only for the young and they are very limited.”
There are no Dutch lessons, the association wrote, adding that “all correspondence from the court is in Dutch while most prisoners can’t read Dutch.”
The association questions the training level of the prison guards, says that there is no mentor program and that there are “prisoners walking around with serious problems without any form of professional help.”
“We already witnessed an incident whereby a guard beat up a prisoner who had psychiatric problems, because he did not want to go back to his cell.”
The fact that all prisoners are locked up together does not sit well with the association either. Other complaints are about the underused recreation facilities
“The gym is likely to stay closed as the watch commander does not feel like opening it most of the time.”
On the condition of the cells they said there is no privacy and no ventilation.
“We flush the toilet with a bucket of water.”

The inmates consider the thirty minutes per week they get for visiting time to be insufficient. The association points out that the standard visiting time in the Netherlands is one hour and also asks for unsupervised visits with their life partners. “Despite our sentence we need to spend time with family and friends. Reason for this request is that relationships are more likely to succeed. After our release it is very important that we have a partner and our kids to come home to.”

The association states furthermore that Pointe Blanche houses 180 inmates and that there are only twenty ankle bracelets (for electronic supervision – ed.) available. The association asks for more bracelets, to enable early release in combination with re-socialization programs.
One of the biggest beefs the inmates have with the prison management has to do with conditional release. Prisoners who have been informed about their early release date are obviously looking forward to that day.
“It happens too many times, especially lately, that prisoners get to hear on this date that their conditional release has been withdrawn. This has a major influence on their state of mind and their behavior in the prison.”
The association also charges that it takes months sometimes before a prisoner receives a copy of his verdict, or a copy of release orders.
“It has happened a couple of times already that a prisoner could not be released because the administration did not receive the verdict, while he had all the rights to be set free. Government is guilty of a criminal offense by doing so,” the association concludes with a reference to kidnapping and abduction.

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Comments (1)


  1. jj says:

    dem have tooo much privileges already!!!! I outside and i dont have free dutch lessons, i dont have the GED program free, point is, They are living better lives than alot of us outside and they still complaining smh and bout they want private time with their spouse NON-sense. If u want private time then stay out of trouble and out of jail. PRISON LIFE TOO COMFORTABLE das y it over populated.

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