03 October, 2009


The Governor alerted us to this statistic at his press conference earlier this week.  Anguilla has one of the highest rates of imprisonment in the world.  The eighth edition of the World Prison Population List has been published.  It gives details of the number of prisoners held in 218 independent countries and Overseas Territories.  It shows the differences in the level of imprisonment in those countries.  It makes it possible for us to compare how many persons per hundred thousand each one of these countries makes a habit of incarcerating.  These are the highlights:

A little research reveals that in the USA in FY 2001, the average operating cost to incarcerate one inmate in the Federal Bureau of Prisons system was US$22,632.  That is more than it cost the US taxpayer to send the same person to college.  It has been estimated that in Pennsylvania the average prisoner cost the taxpayer US$33,615 a year.  For about US$18,000 he could have got a college education.  For about $25,000 he could be followed around on the street by a parole agent, one on one.  Are the comparisons likely to be any different for Anguilla?

In Britain in 2007 the estimated annual cost of imprisonment was 37,500 pounds sterling.  A family of five, I believe, could be kept on that sum.

Curiously, the death penalty is the most expensive punishment there is.  In the US, a recent study found that the median death penalty case costs US$1.26 million.  By comparison, non-death penalty cases (to end of incarceration) costs a mean of $740,000. 

Does anyone know what the figures are for the average operating cost to incarcerate one inmate in the Anguilla prison?  The cost of the prison service is in the Budget.  Anyone with a copy of the budget or the estimates should be able to tell us.  First, find out the number of prisoners in Anguilla at any given time this year, then take the average.  The result will be more or less accurate for the entire year.

Which makes us recall that it was the Quakers who promoted the warehousing of prisoners in penitentiaries as an alternative to corporal punishment.  They also believe that when you are attacked you should not attempt to defend yourself but should turn the other cheek.  So, who wants to be a Quaker?

Despite poverty, Islamic countries maintain a very low crime rate thanks to a variety of corporal punishments.  A man makes a habit of stealing?  Off with his hand!  Another makes a habit of raping?  Off with his penis!  What does it cost Yemen or Saudi Arabia?  One hour of one surgeon’s time?

I am reminded that this is a moment of severe economic crisis.  Hint, hint…


  1. Caning.

    Anguilla must have caning, like Singapore. Put a bit of stick about. "Beat him when he sneezes", as Mr. Carroll liked to do say.

    Personally, I'd start with various graffitists of pretended mainland affiliation. Respect for property is respect for self, and all that.

  2. The imprisonment rate is an impressive way to keep the beaches clear for the touroids. Good on ya, mates!

    David Simmonds

  3. An article in the most recent Anguillian says that more than 100 countries do not permit teachers to strike children. That hitting kids makes them angry and more likely to become violent later. That this is probably why we have so much violence on this island.

    It could well be that hitting kids in grades K to 6 makes them trouble in the higher grades. Once the teachers are not physically much larger than the kids the method of physical domination fails to work.

    I think the big problem with crime is that only criminals are allowed to have guns, not good honest people. If there was a higher chance of criminals getting shot when they broke into houses there would be less criminals.

  4. I had a good laugh at the hints. Although I think that lack of corporal punishment encourages certain behaviour to continue I believe that sooner or later if we apply the rule of an eye for an eye...there would be many blind people walking around aimlessly, needless to say having a bunch of penisless men or handless individuals in a non-Islamic setting, would be an interesting observation or study...any volunteers.

    Although I do not want to be a Quaker...there is some merit in the notion of violence. The problem of punishment in schools is not as big as the problems of the community not supporting corporal punishment of their children...Children has more rights than teachers and are protected and for good reason too.

    After all, why should they get away from all that good set of licks...it was good for us was it, it must have felt good taking the licks and it made us more peaceful...quiet and cooperative...did it not? :-)

  5. It is more than just counting how many prisoners and figuring out the cost. One should also address the crime for which the prisoner is incarcerated. Is he in prison for failure to pay child support? Is he in prison for murder? Sometimes, imprisonment is excessive for the crime. USA seems to put everyone in prison. Prison should be reserved for those who are a menace to society. There are other ways of punishing unacceptable behaviour. The Islamic punishments cited are more of a deterrent because forever after one is easily seen without a hand (therefore a thief). And, what man wants to be without his penis? Good deterrent. Castrate the rapists, especially those that go after children. (OK by me--I am woman)

  6. In modern, "liberal" democracy, the crime problem is primarily the failure to use the death penalty enough.

    In St. Martin last week, a young man with Anguillian family was literally assassinated for his bicycle, in front of his house, by a man wearing black jeans, sunglasses, and a black hoodie. It's not the first time, this animal is still at large, and, when he's caught, he'll probably get three hots and a cot for the rest of his life, compliments of the taxpayer.

    Imagine if first-degree burglary, a home-invasion in other words, had a death penalty in Anguilla, like it used to be in North Carolina before the ACLU started overpopulating the state prison system there. None of the atrocities of recent memory would have happened to begin with.

    First-degree arson (people in the house), murder (premeditation), rape (premeditation) and other things had the death penalty once. The world was a safer place, and the cost to the public purse was considerably less.

    Finally, the ultimate speedy trial is the offer of deadly violence quickly met with a a round in the chamber and a full magazine in reserve. It's a sad truth that for most crime victims the police are usually there to record what happened after fact. Crime prevention begins at home, or at least it should in a rational world.

  7. We should compare our incarceration rate at the time when we had capital punishment in our schools and all the village elders could discipline a child with the incarceration rate now when we have literally banned all capital punishment from our schools and we are well on our way to banning parents from physically punishing their kids.


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