~ No right to early release ~
PHILIPSBURG--Just six months after a covenant was signed for the Justice Ministry’s electronic monitoring programme, the provider of the programme’s ankle bracelets may be changed and interested companies are being asked to look out for the public bid.
The Justice Ministry, the Prosecutor’s Office, the St. Maarten Police Force KPSM, and Foundation Judicial Institutes St. Maarten SJIB signed the covenant in February for the electronic monitoring programme, whereby ankle bracelets are to be used to monitor inmates on temporary or early release.
The bracelets’ hardware and software are provided by a private company contracted by the Justice Ministry. At the time of the covenant’s signing, sources said this company was Comprehensive Security Solutions Inc. (CSSI), a security services firm based in Barbados. However, the Justice Ministry has never confirmed this.
The contract of the ankle bracelet provider is coming up for evaluation, said the Justice Ministry said in a press release on Thursday. “As such, the Ministry of Justice will look into the bidding process once more and is asking interested companies to be on the lookout for the launch of the bid.”
Justice Minister Anna Richardson said she “looks forward to the new bid being carried out soon in order to ensure the continued success of the programme through the provision of hardware and software.”
The ankle bracelets have been used nine times in the past six months, confirmed the Justice Ministry.
Although Richardson has not expressed dissatisfaction about the bracelet provider’s performance, inmates and their lawyers have said more can be done to reduce the overcrowded Pointe Blanche prison by securing early release for selected prisoners.
However, the Justice Ministry has responded to this concern by saying there is no law or agreement that makes early release part of inmates’ rights.
“The Criminal Code does not entail a right for prisoners to go on electronic monitoring prior to their conditional release. Neither does the covenant or the fact that electronic monitoring has been used in the past for the early conditional release of a prisoner create such a right for all prisoners,” said the Justice Ministry.