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High Court judge Justice Richard Floyd.
High Court judge Justice Richard Floyd.
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Another High Court judge has highlighted the need for forensic psychiatric facilities in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Justice Richard Floyd made the point as he noted that mentally ill prisoners on remand are held in an open cell at His Majesty’s Prison in Kingstown, with beds for only half of them.

“Many of them are awaiting psychiatric evaluations before their cases can proceed. However, with no psychiatrist capable of conducting such examinations and producing such reports currently in residence in this jurisdiction, they are left to languish,” the judge said.

He was at the time sentencing Cornelius Kennedy, of Lowmans Hill, who injured three people with a metal pipe during an attack in Kingstown on Dec. 2, 2021, that resulted in the death of one of the victims.

Kennedy will serve 12 years and eight months in prison, the longest of the three sentences imposed on him in connection with the attacks that left Lanceworth Wilson, 62, dead.

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Floyd, who has a three-month stint in SVG that ended on March 31, said at the March 25 sentencing hearing that he had visited His Majesty’s Prison.

“It is an ancient institution in need of significant repair. While the prison superintendent and his officers carry out their duties admirably and with compassion, conditions are grim,” the judge said.

“Inmates with mental health issues are housed in a large open cell area that has beds for about half of them. The rest sleep on the floor.

“There are no toilet facilities in that cellblock. Lockdown is from 3 p.m. to 5 a.m. in His Majesty’s Prison, Kingstown,” Justice Floyd further stated.

“Conditions such as those would be difficult for able-bodied prisoners of sound mind to endure. But for prisoners with mental health issues, it must be dire indeed. 

“It is to be hoped that the psychiatric evaluation process can soon be addressed, with reports being produced in a timely fashion. It is further hoped that the facilities housing prisoners with mental health issues can be improved and made more humane as soon as possible.”

St. Vincent and the Grenadines has been without a psychiatrist for years, with the last one contracted repeatedly describing the workload as “crazy” before quitting two months into her assignment. 

Justice Floyd said:

“Those who suffer with mental ill health and psychiatric disorders sometimes and often do end up in conflict with the criminal justice system, especially if their conditions go untreated, or they declined to take their prescribed medication.” 

He said this was clear from the social inquiry report prepared ahead of Kennedy’s sentencing.

While on his own, the defendant has struggled at times to deal with his condition. He participates in substance abuse, is non-compliant with his medication regime and has gone AWOL from treatment facilities.

When in a controlled environment such as incarceration, he is abstinent from substance abuse, receives regular medication to control his symptoms and shows overall improvement in his condition.”

The judge said this highlights the need for not only more trained psychiatric professionals but also for secure forensic in-patient facilities in SVG.