A prisoner inside Her Majesty’s Prison at Northward was apparently able to take pictures of himself and other inmates, which later ended up on the social network site Facebook.
Cayman Islands government officials looking into the matter Friday said they were not immediately able to determine what time the images were taken, but one image did show a prisoner with a cigarette in his mouth making a “peace” sign. Another photo depicted the man sitting on a prison cot.
The prisoner’s name is not being released by the Caymanian Compass for security reasons.
“The picture in question shows a systemic failure of proper security measures, but also a failure in adequate rehabilitation,” said Eric Bush, chief officer of the government’s Portfolio of Internal and External Affairs.
Cellular smartphone devices are not allowed in the secured areas of the men’s prison at Northward or the women’s prison at Fairbanks, Mr. Bush said. However, cell phones and smartphones have been recovered by prison officers during the last 18 months, despite prison policy.
Cell phone usage by inmates is strictly forbidden because of prison security concerns. In December 2010, a full jail cell and strip search of three teenage female prisoners was carried out at Fairbanks simply because of reports that one of them may have obtained a cell phone.
Mr. Bush said of that search that the layperson might consider that incident overkill, but, in reality, cell phone communications from prisoners are of serious concern.
“In the hands of individuals [a cell phone] can be used as a method or tool to orchestrate chaos and murder,” he said.
A recent report done by Her Majesty’s Prison Service in the United Kingdom on the Cayman Islands prison system revealed a number of failures within the organisation and the proliferation of cell phones within the system was one of those concerns identified.
“These are all matters we are looking to address and will be the priority for the new prison director, who will be taking up [the] post in early June,” Mr. Bush said.
Her Majesty’s Prison Service in the Cayman Islands has been using cell phone jamming equipment at Northward men’s prison since late 2009. It just doesn’t work properly.
Complaints Commissioner Nicola Williams opined in an earlier report issued by her office that “it is virtually impossible to stop cell phone and BlackBerry use in prisons”.
According to information obtained through an open records request, a cell phone jamming system was installed and has been operational at Northward since December 2009. However, the technology was in use during 2010, when some 74 cell phones were found at the men’s lockup.
Government officials confirmed in late 2011 that the cell jamming equipment was being at least partly blocked by the proximity of a telecommunications tower next to the Northward site.
“What we’ve been told is that the tower and cell phone jamming technology are essentially cancelling each other out,” Mr. Bush said in 2011. “We have experienced what they call ‘signal bleeding’ – that’s when the tower signal overpowers the jamming equipment.”
Prison officials are reluctant to discuss specific problems caused by the duelling technologies. But Mr. Bush said it was clear the cell jamming equipment wasn’t working the way government wished.