PHILIPSBURG--Two suspects were sent home by the Prosecution Service last week because of overcrowding in the Pointe Blanche prison.
The prison is being rebuilt wing by wing and 30 fewer detention places are available as a result.
The suspects who were sent home are D.R., suspected of firearm possession, and M.H.K., suspected of human smuggling. The two suspects had been in pre-trial detention and now are allowed to await the remainder of the investigation into their cases at home.
The release of the two suspects does not have any bearing on the outcome of their cases, and it is possible that they could be imprisoned again after trial as a result of their sentences.
At the request of the Prosecution Service, Minister of Justice Dennis Richardson also sent home three prisoners who had nearly completed their sentences, to create space in the prison.
In addition, as a result of the lack of detention space, the Prosecution Service chose not to take into pre-trial detention two persons suspected of money laundering.
An urgent meeting took place between Head Prosecutor Rick Noordhoek, Chief of Police Peter de Witte and Prison Director Edward Rohan. They agree that this is a highly undesirable situation and a solution must be found soon. Advice on this matter will be presented to the Minister of Justice.
Richardson said he had given permission to release three prisoners early.
"When asked to make a decision to release three prisoners who had only a month left of their sentence, or to leave them in prison with the result that three potentially dangerous suspects could not be accommodated, it was not a difficult choice. With regard to the suspects who were released, or not taken into pre-trial detention, that is a decision of the Prosecutor's Office."
Richardson stated that everyone is aware there is a shortage of cell spaces, that the issue is in the process of being resolved by completing the renovations to the prison as soon as possible and that pressure also would be taken off the situation by the construction of two more stories on the Pointe Blanche prison, as well as the construction of a youth detention centre in Cay Hill.