A monitoring team toured the Golden Grove Adults Correctional Facility recently and pronounced itself "pleasantly pleased" at conditions, according to Julius Wilson, director of the V.I. Bureau of Corrections.
Golden Grove operates under a 1986 federal consent decree requiring the territory’s government to bring the prison up to constitutional standards. A 1990 plan of compliance and a 2003 stipulated agreement followed the consent decree. Problems have persisted and, since 2003, U.S. District Court for the Virgin Islands has issued several compliance orders directing the V.I. Bureau of Corrections to take specific security measures, hire new health care professionals, provide specific mental, medical and dental services, and eliminate specific fire and safety hazards, among other detailed directives.
“During the recent visit, monitors toured the facility, reviewed and assessed various operational practices," Wilson said in a statement issued Saturday by Government House. "These assessments included: current prison staffing levels, sanitation, security, inmate complaints, quality of life for offenders, quality of medical and mental health services, as well as the day to day operations.”
Following the comprehensive evaluation the monitors provided the BOC with a preliminary summary of their perspectives and findings in which they asserted that they were pleasantly pleased with many of the improvements seen. While their complete report is not yet available, the inspectors told Wilson they saw improvement in:
• Sanitation – Overall cleanliness of the facility, which underwent a thorough cleaning, scrubbing, power washing and painting;
• Safety and Security – Additional perimeter lighting; all doors have been appropriately secured; arrival and distribution of staff safety equipment, particularly stab vests; and arrival and distribution of radios to staff;
• Logbook information more relevant and detailed; and,
• Updated maintenance plans.
Wilson said the monitor’s report will be filed toward the end of this month.
The BOC director also said the territory and the U.S. Department of Justice have reached a settlement agreement, which was entered as an order of the District Court of the Virgin Islands. The agreement will give the territory the initial discretion determining how best to put Golden Grove on the right path in light of the limitations faced.
On March 3rd, one day before the monitoring team arrived for their third site visit to assess compliance with the settlement agreement, USDOJ filed a motion for more specific relief in the District Court. The motion is based on past observations and conditions at the prison. BOC will have an opportunity to refute that motion in its reply, and at a hearing in April, at which time BOC will demonstrate that conditions at the prison have improved considerably over the past few months.