By Theresa Goodwin
Several indigent prison inmates are reaping the benefits of a special programme designed to make it easier for them to access bail.
The remanded inmates who are awaiting a trial date in the Magistrate’s Court, or for the matter to be sent to the High Court, have been able to apply for bail on their own behalf — with little or no assistance from a lawyer – and at no cost to them.
The process is facilitated by the completion of a special form that has been designed specifically for prisoners who fall within this category.
The measure, which was implemented last April, follows an amendment to the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court’s (ECSC) civil procedures rule.
Deputy Registrar in the High Court Kayode O’Marde told Observer yesterday that prison authorities have been working with the court to identify a number of inmates who have applied, and were successful with their bail applications.
“With the assistance of the prison officers, it has been quite successful because they have made us aware of prisoners who have been sitting in prison for three months or more awaiting a trial,” O’Marde said.
“Last year was a year when trials had to be put on hold for long periods and the inmates remained in prison and we also looked at the prison population which was increasing slowly because of the inability to have trials.
“The forms really assisted those persons who could not afford attorneys during that period of time especially,” he added.
The deputy registrar said inmates who qualify for this service are assisted by officers of the court, as well as lawyers where necessary, to complete the forms.
The application is then submitted to the court for processing. O’Marde said once the application is filed, it goes directly to a judge and the bail application is heard the following day.