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High Court Justice Iain Morley has joined the many critics of prison conditions in concluding that overcrowding there has the potential to cause the easy spread of disease.
In delivering his judgment in the murder case in which Errol “Errie” Barnes was convicted, the judge noted that the conditions were so harsh it warranted a reduction, though small, in the killer’s sentence.
He noted, “On Antigua, I visited the prison for two hours on December 22, 2016. The prison staff do excellent work in very difficult circumstances. The prison is called ‘1735’, as that is when it was first used for custody. The facilities appear to date back to the 19th Century, more in keeping with 1867, 150 years ago, rather than 2017. Facilities are rudimentary. The prison is overcrowded.”
He noted the section of the jail housing convicts is where the risks are greatest.
“Convicted prisoners were in small cells and allowed out only during daylight hours. There is potential for the spread of disease. There is an outside bank of toilets into a pit under corrugated iron, about 30 metres from the kitchens. During lockdown, urination and defecation are into plastic buckets, lacking any privacy and requiring morning slopping out.”
As such, at Barnes’ sentencing Justice Morley said, “I consider these conditions to be far more difficult than in a UK prison, and consequently there should be a further reduction in the minimum term to allow for the fact it is to be served in harsher conditions.”
 
(More in today’s Daily Observer)

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