The Cayman Islands Tobacco Law that was passed in 2008 and came into full effect on New Year’s Eve 2009 is now being implemented into Her Majesty’s Prison at Northward and also the Fairbanks facility for women.
The law banned smoking in all public places in the Cayman Islands, though smoking is still allowed in open air bars and restaurants with certain restrictions, which include that the area is clearly marked and is at least 10 feet away from the nonsmoking area or the enclosed section of the facility.
With regard to the prison system, an implementation committee comprised of senior prison staff have been consulting with stakeholders such as the Ministry of Health, the Health Services Authority’s Public Health Department and the national Drug Council to see how to best institute the policy in the prison system. The Legal Department was also consulted in efforts to make sure the new guidelines were compliant with human rights standards.
After carrying out surveys and training of focus groups in efforts to help sensitise inmates to issues surrounding the implementation of the new smoking policy for the prisons, officials at the prison and the Portfolio of Internal and External Affairs say they are ready to get the initiative under way. The new policy will be implemented in phases beginning in September.
Prison Director Dwight Scott explained more about what the pilot project would entail.
“Starting this September, there will be a no smoking policy in passages on all living units. Smoking will; however, be permitted at least 10 feet away from those areas.”
At the moment, prisoners can smoke in their cells. The prison system has sought to aggregate inmates who are smokers, likewise those who are nonsmokers. This has its challenges, as there is only so much space, Mr. Scott said.
There will be designated smoking areas in the prison that have been exempted from the nonsmoking policy at the discretion of the prison director for the time being. The ultimate goal is for the prisons to be totally smoke free by 2014. This includes a no smoking policy for staff. The prison system will provide counselling and therapeutic assistance to help people cope when the no tolerance policy comes fully into effect.
“Our goal is to comply with the requirements of the Tobacco Law legislation and also to promote health and wellness among the inmate population as part of our overall commitment to improving the rehabilitative experience for all who are incarcerated,” said Mrs. Kathryn Dinspel-Powell of the Portfolio of Internal and External Affairs. She added that, “We are committed to enhancing the physical, mental and emotional wellness of all those in our care so that they can return to the community healthier in many ways.”
Mrs. Dinspel-Powell said the need to implement the policy in the Cayman Islands prison system was made all the more real because of a recent fire in a Honduras prison that killed hundreds of inmates in that country. She said that fire was traced back to a cigarette.
Under the new guidelines, any inmate, employee, visitor or contractor who does not comply with Her Majesty’s Cayman Islands Prison System Smoking Policy is also in breach of the law and subject to a fine.
Mr. Scott will be tasked with arranging for the appropriate signage to be displayed.