SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) – Minister of Justice Cornelius de Weever on Wednesday provided to the media answer to the 15 questions that were posed by United Democrats (UD) Member of Parliament (MP) Tamara Leonard about the National Prison System.
- When were they last updated?
- Landsverordening tot vaststelling van beginselen van het gevangeniswezen
The original law was signed on June 27th 1996 and was enforced on August 13th 1999. The latest update of the law was signed on February 28th 2013 (AB 2013, GT no. 431)
- Landsbesluit, houdende algemene maatregelen, houdende vaststelling van de Gevangenismaatregel
The original law was signed on August 6th 1999 and was enforced on August 13th 1999. The latest update of the law was signed on April 5th 2013 (AB 2013, GT no. 817)
- Ministeriele regeling houdende nadere regelen ten aanzien van de uitgaanskas van gevangene,. Alsmede met betrekking tot de wijze waarop de gevangenisgelden zullen worden beheerd en verantwoord.
The original law was signed on July 2nd 1960 and was enforced on July 9th 1960. The latest update of the law was signed on March 27th 2013 (AB 2013, GT no. 333)
- Ministeriele regeling houdende een eigen instructie voor personeel van het gevangeniswezen Sint Maarten betreffende de het aanwenden van geweld en het gebruik van geweldsmiddelen.
The original law was signed on July 9th 2001 and was enforced on July 14th 2001. The latest update of the law was signed on February 28th 2013 (AB 2013, GT no. 433)
- How do these policies compare to the Netherlands and world standards?
The ministry is currently working on a comparative legal research between our national laws and policies compared to the International and European Prison Rules.
- When was the Point Blanche facilities built?
The prison located at Point Blanche was built in 1990.
- Is it still suitable for housing human beings?
The prison used to house 120 detainees. This capacity number dates from before 10/10/10. Beginning this year, while working on the renovations, we wanted to make sure we adhere to all (inter)national standards. This is when upon measuring the cells we came to the conclusion that Point Blanche has a maximum capacity 86 detainees (80 male / 6 female). We recommend to house 70 to 80 detainee at a time, taken into account that not all inmates can be housed closely together.
- When was the last time VROMI did a build inspection of Point Blanche? If they haven’t why not? If they did, what were their findings?
After the passing of hurricane Irma, VROMI checked the outer space. There is a follow up planned for the week of May 19th, 2019.
Also on the 19th of October 2017, Dienst Justitiele Inrichtingen and Rijksvastgoedbedrijf inspected the facility together and this led to the document ‘Schade assessment aan gevangenis Point Blanche SXM na de orkanen Irma & Maria’
- Is the electrical cabling and paneling up to date?
The electrical cabling and paneling was last up dated in March 2015 by WECC
- When was the last time Fire Department did a build inspection of Point Blanche? If they haven’t why not? If they did, what were their findings?
- Is there enough firefighting equipment in Point Blanche facilities?
Input Fire dep: During the renovations of the prison in 2006-2009 several inspections were carried out in regard to the building permits. Recommendations and requirements were given. In August-September of 2015 the majority of the prison wardens and management were given a BHV-training, both theoretical and practical. A fire drill and evacuation exercise was done at the prison as well some time ago, the exact date cannot be found, but it has been a while.
- When was the last time health department did a build inspection of Point Blanche? If they haven’t why not? If they did, what were their findings?
The Inspectorate inspected the Point Blanche penal institution in 2011 and 2013 (please find the summaries of the two reports enclosed). The Inspection in 2011 was as a follow up to a complaint about the sanitary conditions in the prison. During the inspection, medical, pharmaceutical, sanitary and food safety aspects were examined.
The 2013 inspection was part of a broader inspection investigation into the state of mental health care, in which the Mental Health Foundation and Turning Point were also involved at the time. There has been no major inspection of the penal institution since 2013, partly because the Inspectorate performs these inspections as a result of complaints received.
In addition, due to staffing limitations at the Inspectorate, priorities had to be shifted to institutions whose primary objective was health care unless complaints were received.
There are however regular consultations with the prison doctor, who reports details and incidents / calamities to the Inspectorate when they occur.
This being said inspections will occur at all detention facilities as a result of your concerns.
- What is the average age of inmates?
Average age of inmates is 31.
- How many inmates are repeat offenders?
SJIB cannot give an indication of the amount of repeat offenders currently in detention because they do not have insight into the inmates administration at Point Blanche or the House of Detention in Philipsburg (police station). Inmate information including judicial background is only made available to SJIB when inmates are due for VI-Early Release evaluation as early as 2/3 of their sentence. Moreover, not all ex-inmates are referred to the Probation department.
- What programs are in place to rehabilitees and teach them a new way of living?
During their detention inmates have the possibility to attend GED or English classes. Next to that, a MOU is signed with NIPA and the contract is being negotiated as we speak. This agreement will provide educational opportunities for the detainees in practical classes such as masonry, carpentry and pluming. The courses will also contain life skill classes and each participant will receive a certification and payment. The SJIB-Probation Department is responsible for the supervision and assistance of person who are released from prison (after detention). SJIB has contact with the inmates who are due for Early Release in the last phase of their detention. Evaluation is then being made regarding whether the process has started by the prison to regulate a form of identification for the inmate and if a request for financial assistance and medical insurance has been started up by the prison social department. This is done in order for the inmate to have a form of identification and perspective for financial assistance and medical insurance shortly after release from detention.
Once the inmate has been released, he/she must report to the Probation Department within 2 working days and will be assigned a Parole Officer who will supervise if the parolee complies with the condition stipulated in his/her Early Release Decree. This could be following treatment or therapy at Turning Point or the Mental Health Foundation, cooperation with the Social Affairs and Labor Department, following of Aggression Replacement and/or Social Skills, etc. Parole Officers meet on a regular basis with the parolee to provide assistance, advice and support where needed with the aim to prevent recidivism.
- How are these people to find a job when they are released?
The re-socialization process started within the prison (GED, English classes, classes NIPA) is continued outside the prison, under the supervision of the SJIB. The first priority of the SJIB after release of the inmate is to stimulate and assist the inmate in finding a job. This is a crucial factor for the success of the re-socialization process. Having meaningful day activities such as a job and income reduces the risk of recidivism. Most clients are instructed to report to the labor department for assistance with finding a job. Parole officers help/teach clients to write their resume, help them locate potential employers and give them advice regarding applying for a job and how to prepare and handle yourself during a job interview. In some cases, parole officers will write supporting letters for clients or accompany them to a meeting with the potential employers upon their request.
Ex-offenders identify employment as an integral part of their improved overall functioning and in maintaining a crime free existence. Ex-offenders must deal with a multitude of problems where finding solutions for all problems is a prerequisite for being able to speak of a successful reintegration. In addition, the reduction of the risk of recidivism also depends on the degree of motivation and dedication of the ex-detainee. The ex-offenders are informed of their own responsibility by the probation service, but it should be added that the reintegration in the labor market does not only depend on the ex-offender and the probation department. The context of the labor market and the attitude of the employers must also be considered.
Because of the mention SJIB approached the Social & Labor Department (VSA) earlier this year and has started a series of consultation geared towards establishing a partnership in this area. We are please to say that this has resulted in the development of a draft MOU between VSA, SJIB and potentially the Prison were an Employment through Training program will be developed by the organization involved for ex-offenders. For the target group ‘inmates’, there will be a preparatory labor program during the last phase of their detention (approximately 6 months), in order to prepare inmates for their release back into society
- Are there any incentives for businesses to hire or give ex-inmates a new opportunity in life?
Currently there are no incentives for businesses. For the sake of brevity, I refer to the attached memo ‘Signaalrapport’ which was drawn up by the Department Judicial Affairs of the Minister of Justice, in consultation with the Prison and House of Detention and the SJIB in 2015, in which the bottlenecks concerning the re-socialization of prisoners are explained.
Furthermore, I would like to add that SJIB has approached businesses several times for their cooperation with employing ex-offenders. These employers have always been hesitant because of the stigma surrounding ex-offenders. SJIB also had meetings with the Chamber of Commerce several years ago where the following suggestions were made to SJIB:
- Payment of salaries of the ex-inmate for 6 months and possibility of extension of the contract pending good evaluation.
- Offering a tax credit to inmates who hire inmates.
- These options are being reviewed and will be addressed across the relevant ministries.
- Will ex-inmate even be able to open a bank account?
Yes, ex-inmates can open a bank account.