Forget smoke and its hazardous effects on the health of prison inmates for now, Her Majesty’s Prisons at Northward and Fairbanks in Grand Cayman are both having issues with mould at the moment.
The incidents of mould were discovered in the chapel and kitchen at the men’s facility at Northward, as well as being discovered at the women’s prison at Fairbanks.
“Mould was detected in the chapel at Northward recently. Assistance was sought from the Department of Environmental Health and the Public Works Department. The chapel is closed temporarily and alternative arrangements were put in place to facilitate church services. Remedial work has commenced to fix the source of the problem,” said Prison Director Dwight Scott.
Mr. Scott said that those affected areas were also being cleaned and other works have been scheduled to remedy the problem.
The chapel at Northward prison was built by inmates some 15 years ago.
According to the prison’s director, the cause of the mould has been traced back to leaks in the roofing at both facilities, which was then made worse by condensation from the air conditioning unit.
“The kitchen is now functional again and the chapel should be ready in four weeks,” he noted.
Mr. Scott said he was not aware of anyone becoming ill from the mould.
“There has only been one complaint, but we could not be absolutely sure it was a result of the mould,” he said, adding, “So there is nothing I can point to specifically.”
All prisoners who carry out building works at any of Her Majesty’s Prisons in the Cayman Islands are usually supervised. “They don’t just go out and do these works without being accompanied by staff who are trained in the area and are certified individuals,” said Mr. Scott, who added that the presence of mould due to air conditioning condensation was more a matter of wear and tear than subpar construction.
He explained that costing for the works being done to repair the mould affected areas at the prison were still being tallied by the Public Works Department.
Other construction works taking place at HMP Northward include a new vocational training centre for inmates. That project came in 16 per cent over budget, while a new cell block for prisoners remains under construction roughly four years after it started.
Both of those undertakings were among problems identified in an Internal Audit Unit report commissioned by the Portfolio of Internal and External Affairs and completed in July.
According to the audit, which was obtained by the Caymanian Compass, more than $1 million was spent between government’s 2008/09 fiscal year and now on the new cell block. However, construction on the building was halted in the 2009/10 year “due to a number of planning requirements”, which have to resolved.
“Due to their anticipation of a brisk start and early completion of the new cell block, Her Majesty’s prison service spent the stated amounts in the financial year 08/09,” the internal audit report read, adding that, “The majority of funds were spent on materials, some of which are still as the suppliers’ site[s].”
The 7,200 foot vocational training centre for Northward, which is used to re-educate and re-skill inmates in preparation for their return to society, cost nearly $614,000 and has been nearly completed, according to Cayman Islands government auditors.
The building time for the centre was set for about six months and was due to occur between August and September 2009. However, auditors revealed that some $328,895 was spent on the project during financial year 2010/11; a year after the project should have been completed.
“[The prison director] stated that the initial time and cost estimates mentioned above were predicated largely on the use of prison labour,” the audit stated. “However, because of the transient natures of members of the prison population, the expected results in terms of time and cost of the project were not achieved as intended.”
There was no approved project plan for the vocational centre, auditors found. There was also a lack of records regarding project costing and