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Baron hails drop in repeat offenders

Senator Jeff Baron (File photo)

There were just 11 repeat offenders in Bermuda’s prisons during 2013-2014, the Junior Minister for National Security has reported.

Senator Jeff Baron, who addressed the issue in the Senate yesterday, explained that along with a previously reported rapidly falling prison population, the number of repeat offenders has also dropped.

After the Senate adjourned following a short session yesterday, Sen Baron spoke to The Royal Gazette and explained that the number of inmates between 2011-2012 had been at 473.

“In 2015, there were less than 250,” he said.

Recidivism reflected that trend. In 2011-2012 the number of repeat offenders was 57 of the total prison population. “In 2012-2013, 35 inmates were recidivists. “In 2013-2014, there were 11, said Sen Baron.

“That trend is massive,” he said.

“Juxtapose that with the total number of prisoners, and it not only shows our crime rates are down, but it also shows that the programmes in place within the facility and outside the facility are working.

“There are less people in prison and fewer crimes, and more people involved in social programmes. This is precisely the trend we seek to continue.”

Sen Baron made the remarks after the release of the Treatment of Offenders Board annual report for 2014.

In that report, board deputy chairman Calvin Tacklyn noted there had been 54 adjudications at the Westgate facility, one at the Farm Facility and three at the Co-ed Facility.

At Westgate, some 35 of the offences were cellphone related, there were five involving offensive weapons, such as “homemade shanks,” 14 assaults and nine miscellaneous offences against prison rules.

The Farm saw one cellphone related infraction, while there were three assaults at the Co-ed Facility.

Mr Tacklyn said: “I would like to compliment the Corrections Officers for their outstanding work which at times can be very difficult and dangerous. They continue to find contraband, offensive weapons and cellphones at the Westgate Facility.”

He also said: “Inmates at the Farm continue to perform charity work for various churches, clubs, schools and charitable organisations. The Board also acknowledges the effort of the inmates who “give back” to society by speaking to selected groups and individuals and helping others to avoid the pits into which they fell.”

The board also reported that they have visited the facilities multiple times and discovered that cameras are not working at Westgate, the Farm and the Co-Ed Facility. Other issues at Westgate included exhaust fans not working, a lack of hot water in the kitchen and in the medical section. The buildings are still suffering from ceiling damage incurred during last year’s hurricanes, along with fungus growth. Both the Farm and Westgate have plumbing issues.

The Co-ed Facility also has a number of outstanding issues, according to the report. “The contractor responsible for the installation of the main gate is continuing with the work and is making progress, but very slow.

“A vital camera that was taken down for repairs has still not been returned.”