File picture: Inmates in a cell at the Remand Yard at the Golden Grove Prison.

Two out of every three people in the nation’s prisons are in the remand sections, President of the Prison Officers Association Ceron Richards has said.

He was speaking during a dialogue session hosted by the Caribbean Centre for Human Rights in collaboration with Dialogue Solutions. Richards disclosed that as of Sunday there are 2,328 inmates awaiting justice in the remand sections of the nation’s prisons, which he said represents two-thirds of the 3,743 people committed to the prisons.

“There are 1,415 convicted inmates which is just one third convicted so therein lies our current situation. There is no purpose-built remand yard facility built and design purposely to house inmates in so they are left in very inhumane and uninhabitable overcrowding conditions so cramped that it is listed inhumane and not amount to proper treatment,” Richards said.

He added that frustration levels are not just high among inmates but among officers too.

“It is very normal to see persons spending excess of ten and 17 years in remand because the road to justice is not swift,” Richards stated.

He said over the years the association has made several recommendations to alternative term imprisonment which includes building a new remand facility, parole system and electronic monitoring.

Guest speaker Baz Dreisinger, founder Prisons-to-College Pipeline and Executive Director Incarceration Nations Network said funding is critical for action.

“The folks from the IDB were saying they are open to ideas and open to supporting them and funding them so the key is how do we get that funding not for yet one more study but rather for action for community courts, for alternative incarceration programs, for radical violence prevention programs.

We need to broaden this conversation and bring this into the general public. Prisons were either to the bottom of the budget or second to bottom of the budget of all the government spending and the weight of that shifts when here is public pressure and I have been part of that shift in the United States. I have watched and been part of the movement in 20 years in the US but when the culture started shifting and discourse started shifting when there were documentaries made and books that came out to make people aware and shift the culture and shift the conversations and the voices of those directly impacted at the forefront the public starts to care.”

“When the public demands it, policy has to respond,” she added.