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JUDGE LIFTS CONTEMPT ORDER OVER PRISONS

Dec. 28, 2001 – District Court Judge Stanley Brotman has vacated an order he signed earlier this year citing the Virgin Islands government for contempt of court for not showing adequate progress in bringing the territory's prisons up to constitutional standards.
In an announcement late Thursday that the government was no longer under the contempt order, Attorney General Iver Stridiron said the judge's decision was an acknowledgement that improvements have been made in the prison facilities.
"We are making major strides in restoring the prisons to constitutional standards," Stridiron said in the announcement.
Brotman has been overseeing the jails and prisons in the territory since the government entered a consent decree stemming from a 1985 lawsuit filed by inmates in the system. With representation by local attorney Benjamin Currance and the American Civil Liberties Union National Prison Project, the inmates had complained of overcrowding, lack of medicines, few recreational options, lack of safety mechanisms and other issues.
The expansion of the Golden Grove prison on St. Croix and the housing of prisoners in the Sub Base Annex facility on St. Thomas have largely addressed the overcrowding problem, and Brotman has been pushing for implementation of steps to address the other issues. Earlier this year, he cited the government for contempt because of a lack of progress.
But after an October tour of the prisons with Gov. Charles W. Turnbull and a court hearing, Brotman said he had seen some signs of progress and recommended other measures, such as setting up a separate account for funds to be used only for repairs and maintenance programs. That account will be funded with federal money from the U.S. Marshals Service and the Immigration and Naturalization Service, which pay the local government to provide temporary housing for people picked up on immigration charges and other federal offenses.
On Thursday, Stridiron said the first deposit, of about $220,000, had been made into the new account. With some of the money, he said, prison officials are negotiating contracts to ensure a steady supply of medicines to inmates. Lack of a means of obtaining regular supplies of medicines has been one of the main concerns in the prisons.
Other portions of the money will go toward buying the inmates food and paying to have about a dozen inmates from the Virgin Islands housed in the Virginia prison system, Stridiron said. Those inmates — most of them convicted of murder — are housed at the Wallens Ridge supermaximum security prison in Virginia.

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Dec. 28, 2001 - District Court Judge Stanley Brotman has vacated an order he signed earlier this year citing the Virgin Islands government for contempt of court for not showing adequate progress in bringing the territory's prisons up to constitutional standards.
In an announcement late Thursday that the government was no longer under the contempt order, Attorney General Iver Stridiron said the judge's decision was an acknowledgement that improvements have been made in the prison facilities.
"We are making major strides in restoring the prisons to constitutional standards," Stridiron said in the announcement.
Brotman has been overseeing the jails and prisons in the territory since the government entered a consent decree stemming from a 1985 lawsuit filed by inmates in the system. With representation by local attorney Benjamin Currance and the American Civil Liberties Union National Prison Project, the inmates had complained of overcrowding, lack of medicines, few recreational options, lack of safety mechanisms and other issues.
The expansion of the Golden Grove prison on St. Croix and the housing of prisoners in the Sub Base Annex facility on St. Thomas have largely addressed the overcrowding problem, and Brotman has been pushing for implementation of steps to address the other issues. Earlier this year, he cited the government for contempt because of a lack of progress.
But after an October tour of the prisons with Gov. Charles W. Turnbull and a court hearing, Brotman said he had seen some signs of progress and recommended other measures, such as setting up a separate account for funds to be used only for repairs and maintenance programs. That account will be funded with federal money from the U.S. Marshals Service and the Immigration and Naturalization Service, which pay the local government to provide temporary housing for people picked up on immigration charges and other federal offenses.
On Thursday, Stridiron said the first deposit, of about $220,000, had been made into the new account. With some of the money, he said, prison officials are negotiating contracts to ensure a steady supply of medicines to inmates. Lack of a means of obtaining regular supplies of medicines has been one of the main concerns in the prisons.
Other portions of the money will go toward buying the inmates food and paying to have about a dozen inmates from the Virgin Islands housed in the Virginia prison system, Stridiron said. Those inmates -- most of them convicted of murder -- are housed at the Wallens Ridge supermaximum security prison in Virginia.