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T&T considers overhaul of prison rules

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Friday January 13, 2012 – Sweeping changes have been proposed for the prison system including compulsory HIV/AIDS testing and the granting of conjugal visits for convicted prisoners.

The recommendations would replace “archaic” prison rules and help support inmates re-entry into society, Justice Minister Herbert Volney said.

The minister explained that focus would shift from retributive justice to restorative by promoting the rehabilitation of prisoners.

Legislators will soon debate the recommendations which, the government official said, aim to establish “a system of privileges for the different classes of prisoners, including a points-based system for prisoners to earn remission or part-remission of their sentence.”

He outlined the plan for a detailed system of communication and visits “which would allow prisoners to communicate with their family, friends and attorneys, including the use of telephone and video visits, as well as conjugal and private family visits for convicted prisoners who meet eligibility criteria.”

The justice minister said the new rules stipulates that clothing, food and sleeping accommodation should conform to United Nations standards, and adequate medical services should be provided to prisoners with special needs and conditions.

The rules also seek to regulate the use of force, the manner in which security and control of prisoners are to be undertaken, and provide for prenatal and post-natal care to all pregnant inmates.

The new legislation, the minister said, provided for “early” release of prisoners who co-operated.

“They won’t be locked up as is the case now and made to serve two-thirds of their sentence without any chance of earlier release,” he said. Click here to receive free news bulletins via email from Caribbean360. (View sample)

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