31 August 2016
The Minister for Home Affairs, Deputy Kristina Moore, has lodged an amendment to the Prison Law that would make it possible for an Independent Prison Monitoring Board to replace the current Prison Board of Visitors.
If this amendment were adopted by the States (it is scheduled for debate on 11 October 2016), it would represent an important step towards ensuring that Jersey complies with the requirements of the United Nations’ Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT).
The recommendation to replace the current Prison Board of Visitors, which is comprised of Jurats of the Royal Court, and replace them with independent members was put forward in November 2015 by the Education and Home Affairs Scrutiny Panel.
The amendment would also enable the Minister for Home Affairs to enter into co-operation schemes with other prison services to allow for any special circumstances where additional resources are required. It would also update provisions relating to the conveying of items into or out of prison, and the associated penalties.
Deputy Moore said “As members of the Prison Board of Visitors, the Jurats have provided exemplary service over many years. In order for Jersey to comply with the requirements of the OPCAT, it is not appropriate for the Jurats to continue to serve in this capacity. I wish to thank all Jurats who have served on the Prison Board of Visitors, and particularly the current Board and Chair, who I am pleased will continue to serve until the Independent Prison Monitoring Board is fully operational.”
If the amendment is adopted by the States Assembly in October, Regulations would then be presented to the Assembly to establish and specify the functions of the Independent Prison Monitoring Board.