By Shermain Bique-Charles
Former policeman-turned convict Joseph Peters – who made headlines after claims emerged that he had been viciously beaten by prison officers in April – could soon be released from prison.
Peters, who has been serving time for the crime of demanding with menace since December 2017, is scheduled for release on June 24.
But his attorney Wendel Robinson has filed a writ of habeas corpus in the High Court, arguing that his client’s release date is wrong and he’s being illegally held.
Habeas corpus requires a person to be brought before court, especially to secure the person’s release unless lawful grounds are shown for their detention.
Robinson argued in court yesterday that the three weeks his client spent on remand at the police headquarters were not taken into consideration when he was sentenced.
“He was remanded from May 22 2015 until June 11 2015. When they were calculating they came up with the figure that he is due to be released June 24 this year. But they have refused to consider the three weeks he spent at the police headquarters,” Robinson said.
He continued that the Attorney General’s office appears to have agreed that the 21 days are to be considered, but a question mark lingers over precisely how it is calculated.
“What we are left to resolve on is, what is his real release date. We are arguing that he is overspending his time at prison,” he said.
The hearing has been adjourned to midday Tuesday. Further arguments are expected to be submitted on the issue of calculation of remand times.
Prison authorities also agreed in court yesterday that the time Peters spent on remand is to be taken into account.
High Court Judge Justice Iain Morley QC is hearing the case.
Meanwhile, Robinson said the case raised a bigger issue on whether prison authorities have been appropriately calculating the time spent on remand.
According to Prison Act Rule 2:11, “a prisoner is entitled to a one third remission of the time that they would spend in prison”.
“It appears that there some issues regarding how calculations are done with respect to prisoners on remand and if that’s the case it could have implications for other prisoners on remand,” Robinson explained.
Robinson insists that “the cells or the lock-up at police headquarters is a prison and deemed a prison since 1978. Every single day on remand is a day wasted and their liberty is restrained”.