“We are putting a bandage on a problem that will be ripped off again and go into the same situation when he gets out of prison.”
Magistrate Angelyn Hernandez
(CMR) Magistrate Angelyn Hernandez expressed her continued frustration at the lack of a secure medical facility which forces her to incarcerate people who would be better served getting professional help. She discussed her ongoing concerns at length during the sentencing hearing of Christoper Ebanks.
Ebanks was in court to be sentenced for four counts of being an Idle and Disorderly person after he was found to be exposing himself, urinating and defecating himself in public.
Hernandez, a former attorney shared that a need for such a facility has been long discussed by successive governments at least since 1991 but to date, nothing substantial has been done. She expressed her frustration to defense attorney, John Furniss, as they shared an exchange in open court on the matter.
Furniss shared that they had offered Ebanks some assistance with the option of going overseas to a facility in Jamaica, which he had refused. In lieu of that Hernandez shared that she has no other alternative but to incarcerate Ebanks; a repeat offender.
She continued to express her concerns noting that this is “our societal problem and we don't seem to think we should be putting a mental health facility at the top of our list.” Furniss confirmed that it had been mentioned for about 30 years as “being on the agenda” and has to be done but no funding has been allocated to it.
The magistrate then shared that she was frustrated:
“The lack of facilities and inability to assist people like Mr. Ebanks is not an easy task for any court. I have no choice, it's an afront for others in society for him to be coming around being the way he is, it's actually dangerous.”
Ebanks was facing a penalty of up to two years imprisonment. On his last offense in 2019, he received 6 months. She sentenced him to 8 months imprisonment for each offense to run concurrently with time served to be deducted. Apparently, he has been incarcerated for around 4 months already.
She ended with:
“These are the things that people need to know about, in Grand Cayman we cannot take care of certain situations and we are failing people like this.”
The Progressives government had shared late last year that construction work on a mental health facility in East End had resumed after it was stopped because of the COVID-19 lockdown. At the time they shared that the facility should be ready to be opened in September 2021.
We understand, however, there are some delays that would actually see the facility possibly open later in the year. The PACT government has said that they are committed to seeing this much-needed project through to completion.
Several weeks ago mental health advocate and President of Loud Silent Voices, Jackie Neil opened a community group home facility in West Bay.