CONCERNS ABOUT ONE REMAINING PRISONER
ISLAND, SOUTH PACIFIC OCEAN, March 17 - Questions are being raised on Pitcairn
Island relative to the health care, solitary confinement, and prison conditions
of the one remaining prisoner in the island's jail, long after five others have
been granted home detention status.
Brian Young, one of six Pitcairners
convicted of sexual assaults on the island in years past, who is diabetic and
has heart disease, has been the solitary occupant of the jail for almost six months.
All of the other men have been released to home detention in their island homes
for varying periods of time. Young's convictions were for assaults more than 30
years ago, with no offense of any kind since then.
Two corrections officers
arrived on Pitcairn in December 2008 with orders to close down the island jail
prior to its conversion to tourist accommodations. Young, a descendant of midshipman
Edward Young of H.M.S. Bounty fame, was to begin home detention at his Pitcairn
home on December 9, 2008, after having had a hearing in late October.
before Christmas 2008, the Pitcairn Parole Commission in New Zealand informed
Young that since no psychologist had evaluated the prisoners relative to possible
danger to the community since December 2007, all his documents would have to be
given to a New Zealand psychologist for that purpose, and that a decision would
be ready before the end of January 2009.
The wives of the Pitcairners convicted
had appealed to Pitcairn's governor three times in 2008 for a psychologist to
visit the island to counsel and evaluate the prisoners, and to help their wives
cope with stress. The governor replied that such a visit was not necessary since
the prisoners were already assessed as non-suicidal. Rotating superintendents
of the prison had said they considered the incarcerated men to be model prisoners.
we could have had a psychologist here in 2008 as we requested, there would have
been a more recent psychological report than 2007 on my husband and the other
Pitcairn men. That could have made these delays unnecessary," said Young's
When the commission's decision arrived on Pitcairn, the superintendent
of the four-member guard unit which had been watching over Young, volunteered
to stay on the island with the two newly arrived officers so a 24-hour maintenance
of the prison could continue.
Two additional corrections officers arrived
at the beginning of February 2009, and the superintendent left on the same ship
that brought the two, leaving a full crew of four to watch over Young.
compassionate leave was been granted Young at Christmas 2008, and on some days
to do urgent maintenance on his island home that his wife could not do, he remains
in the Pitcairn jail with no assurance of when if ever he will be released as
the other offenders have been. It has been a half year since the last prisoner
was released from the jail to home detention, leaving Young in solitary confinement
since last August.
On March 5, 2009, a psychologist arrived on Pitcairn
from New Zealand to study Young's qualifications for release to home detention.
In less than two days, on March 7, he was back on the chartered ship that had
brought him for his return to New Zealand. No word was given as to when his report
might wend its way to the parole commission, or when that body might render a
decision about Young's release to home detention.
Universally, the fewer
more than 70 people on Pitcairn Island do not consider Young to be any sort of
threat or danger to their safety.
Meanwhile, the wrong type of insulin
for Young's diabetic condition arrived recently on a ship calling at Pitcairn,
posing some threat to his health. On Sunday, March 8, 2009, Young was hospitalized
in the island's clinic with heart trouble that caused the island doctor to keep
him hooked up to instruments all day to get his heart rhythm regular again.
a result of the island jail having been scheduled to close in December, food has
not been sent to the island to accommodate the prisoner although food for the
guards themselves was brought as they arrived. There is only water to drink for
the diabetic Young since the only other drinks available are of the sugared variety.
None of the non-sugar, low-carb food diet Young's doctor recommends are
available. There is no coffee, milk, flour (Young bakes bread for the corrections
officers), etc, on hand at the jail. His wife has been able to provide some eggs,
beans, lintels and non-sugar drinks from her meager supply. The often months-long
gap between ordering food for the island and its arrival there makes the poor
diet Young must undergo a serious health concern.
A "Visiting Committee"
to look after the welfare of the prisoners in the Pitcairn jail and to check the
quality of food they receive was appointed by the governor in 2006. The committee
was supposed to meet eight times each year in visitation with the prisoners. Pitcairn
sources say the committee has not officially met since April 2008, and did not
visit with the prisoners in any organized or consistent way.
A March 5-7,
2009, visit to Pitcairn by the island's governor who sits in Wellington, brought
a face-to-face appeal to him to make an early decision relative to Young's possible
release to home detention. His reply that "My hands are tied," fell
on deaf island ears since the Pitcairners know him as the builder and boss of
the prison; his office wrote all new Pitcairn law, created the courts, and appointed
the lawyers and judges that led to "The Pitcairn Trials" of the offending
Pitcairn Islands Study Center, 1 Angwin
Ave., Angwin, CA, USA. Herbert Ford, 707-965-6625, 707-965-2047, Fax: 707-965-6504,
Email: email@example.com, Website: http://library.puc.edu/pitcairn