(CMR) Cayman Marl Road was on location earlier today after receiving a phone call that inmates at the Detention Centre at Fairbanks started a hunger strike late last night and wished to speak directly with us. Our attempts to interview them around midday today was promptly stopped by a prison guard.
CMR was not permitted to speak with the inmates but instead told to make a formal request for an interview via the director. Her Majesty’s Cayman Islands Prison Service (HMCIPS) has now confirmed that it’s aware that three prisoners have indicated that they are refusing to eat prison food. CMR was informed that it was ten prisoners on the hunger strike.
Shortly after our departure, we were then informed that the low-risk prisoners were being told that they would be arrested and charged then moved to the higher-risk facility at Northward because of the incident. Both police and the prisoner director, Steven Barrett were on site speaking with the inmates about the matter and consequences they could be facing.
We understand that one of the concerns is that they are not being told the status of their release from the facility despite being moved there with the understanding that they would be transitioning out of the prison system soon.
The lack of communication has led to frustrated inmates during the COVID-19 pandemic. This is not the first time we have been contacted with concerns about inmate living conditions and concerns since March.
In a press release late this evening, it was divulged that the inmates have turned down prison food since yesterday evening (Monday, 1 June) and the matter is now being managed in accordance with internal policy and procedures.
“Communication channels between inmates and prison officers remain open and active, and feedback from prisoners, as always, is fully encouraged. It is disappointing that the prisoners did not raise any concerns they have through the internal complaints processes.”
The option exists for prisoners to raise issues of concern to the Independent Monitoring Board and they chose not to do this either. This situation was driven by three prisoners and does not involve any of the other residents.
“The living accommodation at the Enhanced Rehabilitation Unit (ERU), where the inmates were being housed, is the very best that that HMCIPS has to offer. The current residents of the ERU were moved there as part of the strategy to create some internal space at HMP Northward in light of COVID-19 prevention arrangements. It was made clear to the men that this move would not include opportunities to begin community placements, due to COVID-19.”
Cayman Marl Road will make every attempt to make a formal application to have a sit-down interview with the prisoners.