Public Safety Minister On Prisoner Transfer Option

January 3, 2013

The possibility of transferring prisoners overseas is an “option that should be considered after discussions with all relevant authorities,” newly-appointed Minister of Public Safety Michael Dunkley said.

The Minister noted he is scheduled to meet with the Corrections’ senior team as well as the Prison Officers’ Association this month to address the issues surrounding incarceration.

The transfer option is frequently talked about, with proponents citing the $80,000 cost per prisoner in Bermuda, as well as concerns the conditions at Westgate are not ‘tough’ enough to serve as a deterrent.

The previous administration had mentioned it on a few occasions, and the Government’s submission for the 2012 White Paper on Overseas Territories said the transfer of prisoners “based on a level of criminality” to UK prisons would be a “very useful area of enhanced cooperation.”

We asked Minister Dunkley if the new administration is looking at the option, and he replied, “Over the past few weeks this has been a matter that has been mentioned to me by people from all walks of life.

“During these conversations I have listened with interest to the concerns and the suggestions to transfer prisoners overseas to serve a sentence and I have made it clear that this is an option that should be considered after discussions with all relevant authorities and we will have these discussions,” Minister Dunkley continued.

“Any period of imprisonment is meant to drive home a number of messages. Sentences are punishment for the offence committed, a deterrent for others who might consider committing crime, but also represent an opportunity to rehabilitate offenders and prepare them for a return to society with as low a risk of re-offending as possible.

“Those aims can be achieved within our system in Bermuda and this Government is committed to working with Corrections to meet each aspect of a period of imprisonment.

“These are Bermudian problems which we can solve provided we devote the necessary financial and human resources to fix them. I am scheduled to meet with the Corrections’ senior team as well as the Prison Officers’ Association this month to address these very issues,” Minister Dunkley concluded.

The last time it appears a prisoner was transferred was in 1960, when a Bermudian convicted of murder was sent to the UK to complete his sentence in a mental institution that could hold convicted prisoners.

19-yr-old Wendell Lightbourne was convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of Dorothy Rawlinson, however following the report of three psychiatrists that he was mentally unfit, his death sentence was commuted to life in prison which was served in England.

Further back in history — in the 1800s — Bermuda often sent Bermudian prisoners to overseas prisons in a process called ‘transportation,’ with many Bermudians being sent as far as Australia.

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Comments (65)

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  1. Limey says:

    Don’t send them to the Uk, the prisons are too easy of a time, send them to the gulags in Siberia

  2. Dee (Original) says:

    Excellent idea! This isn’t going to go over well with the punks who won’t be able to see (or call) their Mama on a regular basis from Westgate. This isn’t going to go over well with the punks who won’t have a reunion with their boys at Westgate to look forward to. Maybe the thought of going far away from home, to something unfamiliar and unknown, will make them think twice…

  3. lowering the cost says:

    Isn’t the prison service made up of an all Bermudian staff, including spouces of Bermudians? Why not look at ways to bring down the cost of having them here because by sending our prisoners overseas could potentially mean the loss of prison officer jobs. Why not take a look at the Maricopa County Jail where the prisoners are housed outside in tents, given two meals per day with one being sandwiches. This could significantly cut down on the cost of electricity and food. There are examples of private for profit jails overseas. That could also be an option because the private sector is better at lowering operating costs than any government.

  4. lyfe says:

    send em mexico! with the rats!

  5. Yng Black Mind says:

    I stated that I would sit and watch what the OBA Government would do once placed in power – - and this statement from the Minister is quite interesting.

    This article is about the sending Bermudian inmates overseas to complete their sentences – correct?

    When asked about that idea, the Minister states, “I have made it clear that this is an option that should be considered after discussions with all relevant authorities and we will have these discussions” – (ok – everyone with me?)

    Later in his statement, the Minister says, “Any period of imprisonment is meant to drive home a number of messages. Sentences are punishment for the offence committed, a deterrent for others who might consider committing crime, but also represent an opportunity to rehabilitate offenders and prepare them for a return to society with as low a risk of re-offending as possible.

    Those aims can be achieved within our system in Bermuda” (WAIT – Did you all catch that?)

    If those “aims can be achieved within our system in Bermuda”, why are discussing the possibility of sending inmates overseas?

    Which one is it?

    Just wanna be clear – plain and simple.

    Yng Black Mind
    (those who know understand)

    • jojo says:

      because its cheaper duh

      • Yng Black Mind says:


        Apparently, you missed my point. Either we are going to look at sending them overseas or we aren’t – - the Minister contradicted himself in his statement – that’s the problem for me. The concept of sending inmates overseas is about saving money, deterrence, etc. – WE GET THAT – - but you all don’t have a problem with the “double talk” from the Minister?

        Not at all?

        Yng Black Mind

        • BIE says:

          i certainly do!
          and i caught it!

        • tom-e says:

          Thank you @ yng black mind – glad someone is paying attention. Serious double talk…it seems here we go again SMDH

    • dunkley says:

      it’s been proven it cant be achieved here…..

      • Yng Black Mind says:


        See my post above to @jojo

        Yng Black Mind

        • Um Um Like says:

          young black mind- apparently you’re the only one that knows or understands. It’s OK- you’ll still be able to visit your incarcerated friends and relatives, no matter where in the world they may end up.

          • Yng Black Mind says:

            @Um Um Like:

            I normally do not respond to “personal attack” post, as your post has nothing to do with what I stated; however, I wanted to share something with you. I come from a very large extended family – my maternal grandmother has 7 children, while my paternal grandmother has 7 children – this branches out to include just under about 36 cousins, 2nd cousins and such.

            Out of that number, only 1 cousin has been in jail ever (in the US, I might add), thus your statement rings a bit hollow to me.

            My post are placed to engage people in thoughtful discussion and to evoke people to ask questions – - that’s why my tagline is as such – for once you “know”, you will be able to “understand” – got it?

            Yng Black Mind
            (those who know understand)

            • Um Um Like says:

              Wow! You’re grandparents really did listen to Dame Louis when she said to go out and fornicate!

            • Fruity says:

              Like this response and your approach ;) may you continue this way..

    • The Truthsayer says:

      He said they’re looking at an OPTION to send them overseas, but it could also be done here. (Meaning that they could figure something out to make it work here too). Are you stupid or slow?

      • Yng Black Mind says:

        @The Truthsayer:

        I am neither stupid nor slow. The Minister contradicted himself – plain and simple. He was unclear in his intent and any logically thinking, sane academic would be able to ascertain that fact.

        Your use of the conjunction “but” reflects your belief that there was a connection between the “option” and the “reality”; however, nowhere in his statement does the Minister refer to any collaboration of those two ideas.

        That is your intent – - maybe you should be Minister?

        Yng Black Mind

        • Give it a rest! says:

          Dude – let it go. You are grasping at straws here. Dunkley clearly stated that cost is the reason for housing these criminals elsewhere. Sure it can be done here – it has been done here for the last “how many years” and how far in debt are we? Get a clue – you don’t sound very intelligent. You sound like a sore looser.

          Get over it already. Move on with the rest of us or sit in your computer chair all grumpy and mean hating everything this new government does.

          • Yng Black Mind says:

            @Give it a rest!:

            Did you actually read my first post? I am simply trying to indicate that the Minister misspoke – nothing more.

            My contemporaries are the ones who are painting this more than what it is – - plain and simple.

            I repeated what the Minister said – nothing more – and I questioned the meaning/intent of his statement. Aren’t we, as the citizens, suppose to do that, at least?

            Oh and just so you know – - I’m not grumpy – - I love myself and I love my country, thus I will always ask questions of the government (as I did when the other party ran the show) – - this is not “Haterade” – - and it is that idea of “moving on” that irks me.

            Because the previous government, according to most, was corrupt, evil, etc. – we are suppose to just give the current government a “blank slate” – they can’t be questioned or pressed for clarification on anything?

            I for one don’t believe that is the correct way forward – thus, my original post. I am happy that the Minister and the government are looking at the options – but he contradicted himself – there is no way around that point.

            Can you admit that was a misstep, at least? If you can, then we are able to discuss the topic; if not, you will simply believe me to be a “sore loser” and not listen to what I said versus what you “think I said” – think about it>.

            Yng Black Mind

            • Fruity says:

              You are very plain and simple and I love iT! :) Like orignally said either you get it or you don’t.. I won’t recommend wasting time re-explaining a point clearly made.

    • theothersidebda says:

      It is tough to read too much into any one sentence as no one except the speaker knows the intent.

      Personally, I think the best way to look at it is from a classroom setting. In school, for lack of a better grouping you have the ‘behaved kids’, the few ‘unruly kids’, and the ones in between. As a teacher, you have to teach them all. Unfortunately, many times your energy is expended on dealing with the unruly kids who actually take away from your ability to teach the others.

      So taking this back to the prisons, I personally think there are certainly inmates who can be dealt with here for their infractions. But to date, most of the manpower and focus has to be on “dealing with” the few unruly ones who are hindering the process for others. So maybe the solution is to send those individuals who commit certain types of crime or who refuse to fall in line within the system, off to another country. Then proper attention can be paid to those who truly can be assisted locally.

    • Bermyluv says:

      While the aims can be achieved, the costs are becoming prohibitive. I think that is a major driving factor. We don’t want to become like some US states that have to release prisoners because they can’t afford to keep them.

      Additionally, a subset of the prisoners can’t be remedied by our system and are effectively perpetual offenders. These individuals have been and most likely will continue to be a burden to our society their whole lives. If this option lightens the burden that Bermuda has to bare, I believe it’s worth considering.

    • Ok says:

      Dunkley just talking BS nothing will happen until 2 months before the next election.

  6. u cant be serious says:

    Let me get this right the prisons out here your allowed to have playstations,sound systems,freeview television,and if your married you allowed to have your wife come and spend time alone with you behind closed doors….they have obviously not done any research in to uk prisons..

  7. Concerned Local Bermudian says:

    Yng Black Mind…
    We are BROKE and I estimate that once the books are reviewed, it’s more like $1.9 billion of debt.
    Bermuda will need to look at every option to reduce costs, so that the most needed programs don’t get cut.
    Please be a bit more opened minded. Don’t just look at it being the OBA. There are serious decisions to undertaken that up until now have been ignored.

    • VJ says:

      I don’t think it was a matter of yng black mind not being open minded. I think it was a matter of them being confused. I read the Minister’s statement and said “Huh?” Seems like a lot of double talk to me. Or maybe he didn’t proof read his statement, thus failing to realize it was totally contradictory.

    • Yng Black Mind says:

      @Concerned Local Bermudian:

      With all due respect, I do not believe you understand the purpose of my post. I understand that most will believe that sending inmates overseas will save the country money – - that is true, to an extent. There are other factors which include cost that people are not considering with this option.

      Do you really believe that any other country is simply going to “take” our inmates without some form/version of taxes, concessions or payments? Do you believe that we (taxpayers) won’t cover the bill of all travel expenses, which will include the inmate and at least 3 officers to transport them overseas to this “new” prison (food, accommodations, stipend, etc.

      I am not closed minded – - I am simply listening to the Minister – - he clearly stated one thing and then the complete opposite in the same statement – - I did not change one word he said.

      Yes – we need to cut cost, but we also need to be assured that our leaders (both OBA & PLP) are working in the best interest of us – - not providing conflicting information just to “appear to be doing something”. No double talk – - we had enough of that with the previous government – thanks.

      Speak to the fact that he contradicted himself in that one statement – - that’s not a problem for you?

      Yng Black Mind

      • Come Correct says:

        You didn’t change his words but you did miss some.

        The previous administration had mentioned it on a few occasions, and the Government’s submission for the 2012 White Paper on Overseas Territories said the transfer of prisoners **“based on a level of criminality”** to UK prisons would be a “very useful area of enhanced cooperation.”

        The words where I put the ** would tell me their aim is to send murderers overseas, possibly for a fraction of $80,000 cost now. I don’t know for certain but possibly the saving could be put towards those financial and human resources he spoke about so offenders of lesser crimes can be rehabilitated and prepared for release back into society. That’s just my take on it, but I get what you’re saying, I said the same thing when I read it. Why the UK though? Mexico would probably take them at 5,000 a head. A fat load of good this will do if the DPP is going to give them plea bargains for manslaughter.

        • Yng Black Mind says:

          @Come Correct:

          Agreed. The UK as the only option is a bit premature; however, I look forward to see what comes from this.

          Yng Black Mind

  8. theothersidebda says:

    Send them to Brazil….seems to be doing the trick for the former Turks and Caicos Premier….

  9. Concerned Citizen says:

    @ YBM, you have asked very good questions! May I add the final contradiction in the statement….” These are Bermudians problems which we can solve provided we devote the necessary financial and human resources to fix them”! Huh? If this is the case, then why are we considering this MAJOR step back into the UK boosom? This is interesting and concerning all at the same time.

    • Yng Black Mind says:

      @Concerned Citizen:

      That is a very good point. If all we need is “necessary financial and human resources”, as according to the Minister, why are we considering an overseas option? We just need to buckle down and find the resources locally – agreed.

      Yng Black Mind

      • Come Correct says:

        I understand what both of you are saying but on the flip side, with Bermudian prison officers overseeing Bermudian “gangsters” and the ease in which items move in and out of westgate its difficult to discipline an inmate without the fear of a message being sent out and their family being at risk. It’s a very real concern of a lot of prison officers. When I was at westgate (working lol) most of the officers seemed to think it was only a matter of time before a gun came over the wall. IF that ever does happen, the prison officers are unarmed, and now you have an armed prisoner in a fortress full of hostages. What do you do? Arm them? Then prepare for the repercussions that come after they are used whether lethal or non-lethal. Trust me nobody takes kindly to being shot with a riot gun. Its a very iffy situation that will need a lot of consideration, I sure as hell don’t have the answer. I think their main aim is to get murderers off the island and concentrate rehabilitating prisoners of lesser crimes. But if these murderers are going to be released one day after doing years in a hardcore prison, they’re either going to come out worse and possibly with a grudge, or ya boy that walks the island daily is going to have a few walking buddies.

        • Yng Black Mind says:

          @Come Correct:

          Agreed again. Very good points that I hope the Government does consider.

          Yng Black Mind

        • lol says:

          Start by taking all the TV’s and radios out of the prison & place 2 in a cell. What we have now is a hotel. 24 hour lock down, give them the bible to read. How many prison in the World let inmates study law and take test serving time.

          • Fruity says:

            WTD…they got TV in prison too??? Oh man! Clearly I’m not paying attn, but wow

  10. bobthebuilder says:

    “I stated that I would sit and watch what the OBA Government would do once placed in power”
    Ok is eveyone with me?

    “This article is about the sending Bermudian inmates overseas to complete their sentences – correct?”
    WAIT – did you all catch that? there is a misplaced “the”. Also not only is he sitting an watching he’s now commentating on it.

    young black mind does the above seem pointless and silly to you? Yes it does, because it is.

    Please re-read the article, this is about costs and you missed an important part of the quote (maybe on purpose)
    “Those aims can be achieved within our system in Bermuda…..provided we devote the necessary financial and human resources to fix them”.

    this is clear – plain and simple

    • Yng Black Mind says:


      Interesting – - apparently, you are so devoted to syntax that you, in your zeal to point out the shortcomings of my original post, are guilty of the same mistakes, but that’s not my focus.

      I did not miss the point of cost – - which is what most OBA supporters are focused on in the article – that’s fine – I don’t have a problem with that.

      But unlike those supporters, I actually have some background in journalism and understand that the focus of the article steams from the headline – “Public Safety Minister on Prisoner Transfer Option.”

      The article is about the Minister and his statement regarding the option of sending inmates overseas – - and all the factors that are involved.

      Cost is a factor – yes, but did you ever consider that those “necessary financial and human resources to fix” those problems can be located on island, if we look for them? As an option?

      That’s why we disagree – - I look at the situation without the need to appease anyone or any party – - so back to the issue at hand – - I concede that cost is important; however, that is not the focus of the article – it is an by-product.

      Yng Black Mind

  11. me says:

    bring back the hanging of prisioners! Then they will think twice!

  12. swing voter says:

    List of prisons in Jamaica

  13. jt says:

    Excellent – but send them to India.

  14. Triangle Drifter says:

    Excellent idea. Anyone with a sentence of say 5 years or longer, bye bye.

    As needed charter a plane from Con Air, yes there are such aircraft, to take a load & return a soon to be released load. There must be plenty of countrys willing to house our little darlings for a fee far less than they cost us at the Westgate Spa.

    Were it not for the expense we could have a prison barge moored miles out in the N channel. I don’t know if it is still there but there was one moored near La Guardia airport, NY. Huge! The size of a midsized cruise ship.

    Lots of options. Government needs to move soon though, with some luck Westgate cells will be needed to house those found guilty of theft from Government. There are millions currently unaccounted for.

  15. @Work says:

    Who will be the next group of Bermudians targeted for temporary deportation? The homeless, the poor, the uneducated?

    Wrong way to go. Instead of dealing with the crime issues the answer ‘may’ be to send Bermudians overseas to serve time in a foreign prison? What are we, Cuba in the 1960′s?

    Crime tends to be the ‘End Result’ of other issues.

    Why not send children to boarding schools first? After all, an educated young adult with a job is less likely to commit crimes.

    • Please Leave Politics says:

      I wholeheartdly agree with sending several Berudian children oerseas to boarding schools. This would save tons of dollars and give us vibrant and educated youth.

  16. Sigh says:

    I am all for prisoners being sent away to send money, and for a bit tougher treatment… but I don’t think the UK is the best place for it. Just with a simple google search, you can find out that the cost per prisoner in the uk is GBP41,000 – which at the current exchange rate takes us up to 65,000/year – so we are saving 15,000/year per prisoner… There are 208 places for prisoners in westgate… lets say 100 are the type that should be sent away. So in one year, that would be 1.5m of savings. But lets factor in maybe 5,000/prisoner for travel/transfer. That would be 500,000 less taking our savings to 1,000,000. They say it costs GBP119,000/ per new place in UK prisons (not sure what this entails)… SO lets say they need to create more room for our prisoners… this takes our savings down even more as this would take our cost per prisoner up even more. Lets then talk about the number of prison officers who would become unemployed in Bermuda vs the money saved. I understand they were saying it is just a possibility, but it took me 5 minutes to do basic calculations. These calcs don’t include all the hidden administrative costs that would be associated with this option… and still it seems obvious that it would not be the best option. In addition to the cost, the prisons in the uk seem even more luxurious than hotel westgate! We need to find a more feasible option. If the best answer is to send prisoners abroad, lets find somewhere more cost effective, and less prisoner friendly!

    • Sigh says:

      *to save money!

    • u cant be serious says:

      lol a simple google search would show that uk prisons are alot easier then bda prisons i would rather spend my time there then bermuda,playstations allowed freeview tele and sky a well lol send me there anytime…not only that but these guys will be meeting some notorious criminals out there whose to say the wont come back worse all that money can be used to renovate westgate in2 a prison 4 violent offenders simples

  17. Really?? says:

    People are quick to say send prisoners away to save money but will that really be the case. At the present, although it is expensive to house prisoners here some, most of the funds spent are put back into the economy as costs include: paying prison guards (locals) purchasing goods and products for the prisoners (locally) and maintainence and upkeep (local facilities). Although it may be cheaper to relocate prisoners, most of the costs will be spent externally: airline tickets for prisoners and prison staff escorting them both to and from the location of the prison (foreign airlines and ground transportation), housing costs (foreign prison and guards) plus the prisoner’s basic needs such as food, toiletries etc (foreign suppliers). My point being that all the dollars spent on sending the prisoners abroad will be spent off the island and taken out of our economy. So would that achieve the goal we are seeking? Could that possibly weaken the economy by taking money out our economy?

  18. Bermudian says:

    Why not leave them where they are, throw out Lamb and get someone who knows how to properly run a prison, I think Lamb is the problem, too soft while giving the appearance he is not. The rank and file officers should stay just lamb has to go.

    In the future, build a max security prison where the Prison Farm is.

    Oh by the way, treating the inmates like prisoners would also help.

  19. Real Talk (original) says:

    I am shaking my head at the fact that this is even being seriously considered.

    A cheaper option would be actually making prisons in Bermuda what they should be. Take away the perks, hire prison officers from overseas…

    I am so sick and tired of people talking about the prisons in Mexico, Jamaica, etc… State of the prisons aside and these two countries have some of the highest crime rates in the western hemisphere. Obviously crappy prisons and head busting officers aren’t that much of deterrent.

    If we address the underlying social issues then we won’t even need to have this conversation.

    Shipping our home grown problems elsewhere? Wow. Talk about not taking responsibility.

  20. Single Mom says:

    I would like to see all foreigneers to serve their time overseas. I would also like for the Government to introduce programs that will make the average prisoner to not want to go back to Prison. Westgate is another home to them they get great meals,showers, activities. Nothing harsh that will make them think twice before they commit a crime.

  21. i got you says:

    send ‘em to the Philippines!

  22. Myzterri says:

    Another option could be to send all foreign prisoners back to their relevant countries and then implement a Bermuda Stop List and havethese offenders placed on that which will prevent them from returning to commit more crimes. Also instead of spending $80,000 on these prisoners, possibly spend that much or more on education, therefore maybe reducing the need for so many prison officers, and programmes required to rehabilitate the inmates.

  23. DarkSideOfTheMoon says:

    Yes, let’s send Bermudians to prisons with even worse people than here so that they can learn more tricks of the trade and come back and teach the young ones. Great idea. Pretty soon it will be more than just the gangsters being shot.

  24. Make West gate a maxium security facilty. For the murderers – they should get real life (i.e. their life time.) Child molesters,rapists etc. – No Parole a all, do the sentence given.
    For all prisoners – BAN VISITS for the first year of their sentence and then you only get 1 visit every 6 months and not on the prisoner’s birthday.(They took away someone else’s love one and they can’t celebrate their birthday). FOOD – Porridge for breakfast or bread and butter, Sandwich for lunch, Soup for dinner. Sundays you get meat and potato and vegetables. NO GYM, NO TELEVISION, NO RADIO. They can do the cleaning of cells and wash their own clothes. In other words make them work while in there.

    Put all other Prisoners at the Prison farm and they have to be enrolled in education and likeskill programmes.

    • BermudaGirl says:

      Sounds good! Now how do we make the fools in government listen while they babble about sending prisoners to other countries? What other countries needs more s__t in their prisons, for one thing??

  25. Y-Gurl says:

    It’s the start of a good idea, there certainly isn’t a lot of deterrent for the criminals, how about starting simple and if a foreign national is imprisoned in Bermuda we send him to his / her country of origin to do their sentence easing space at Westgate and easing the Bermuda taxpayer

  26. swing voter says:

    Send them to Jamaica. Hopefully they would get married there and won’t want to come back.

  27. Joy says:

    Ive got a list of countries you can send them to….Brazil (canrandiru prison) syria, La sabenta prison (venezuela) Germany, Poland and Russia chechnya prison….. I will pay for those prison only as a taxpayer.

    If you read about these prisons you will know why I mentioned the name of 2 in particular. Too much luxury at Westgate. I’m sorry but some of these young men need to see death, feel close to it and learn to respect other peoples lives and their own.

  28. BermudaGirl says:

    How about getting REAL,no-nonsense, non-related, well-trained, take NO BS, SERIOUS prison guards and bring them to Bermuda? Cut out the cable TV and other luxuries, and the cost goes way down per idiot prisoner. Shipping people elsewhere? What, first class? The government thinks through their a$$.

    • Fruity says:

      I agree but as you noted that would mean government would have to think …elsewhere and quite frankly I think its far too long & stuck in the way of thinking via rears :)
      soooo.. SIGH! :) Can’t wait til the end!