One day after another young Black Bermudian male was sentenced to life in prison, Bermuda Real can disclose tonight that there are now 41 inmates serving life sentences for murder in Bermuda’s prisons.
And according to the Minister, they all range in age from as young as 22 to 66 years of age.
This after 27-year-old Khyri Smith-Williams was found guilty of premeditated murder by a Supreme Court jury, who also found him guilty of using a firearm to commit an indictable offence in the murder of Colford Ferguson.
The weapon used in that murder has been linked to two other murders and other shooting incidents in Bermuda.
While passing sentence on Tuesday night, Puisne Judge Carlisle Greaves ordered the defendant to sentenced Smith-Williams to serve at least 25 years in prison before he becomes eligible for parole, with ten years for the gun offence to run consecutively with the murder sentence.
Justice Greaves told the defendant that the murder victim, a father of one had “unnecessarily and cruelly lost his life as a result of the gang violence in this country”.
“Today we have another case in which an innocent has been gunned down. A child is now without a father,” he said.
“You chose the path of the gang life — and unfortunately for you it has brought you to this calamity. You, too, will deny your child a father. There are never any winners in these cases.”
But already, the defendant’s lawyer, Queens Counsel Jerome Lynch has stated that there was a “very real prospect” that his client will launch an appeal.
“I think there are, in my mind, possibly one or two grounds which are certainly worthy of exploration. If you’re dealing with somebody who is facing 35 years of his life in jail we’ve got to look at every possible stone and see if there’s anything under it — and that’s what we will do.,” he said.
Mr Ferguson was gunned down on the job while working on a construction site at a house on the junction of Mangrove Bay Road and East Shore Road in Sandys Parish in broad daylight in February 2011.
And while there may in fact be an appeal pending, this latest sentence brings the total number of Bermudians serving life sentences for murder to 41.
More than a decade ago, this journalist produced ‘Life Behind Bars’ a 90-minute documentary recorded in 2006 and set up in 2005, on what was then only a handful of inmates serving life in prison for murder.
Fast forward to October 2018 and what will soon be the end of another year when we have 41 inmates between the age of 22 to 66 serving life in prison. Ten years ago, the annual cost per inmate was estimated to be around $81,000 per inmate. Tack on the cost of living in Bermuda since then and put a figure on that cost per inmate this year. We should say here that when asked for the official guesstimate, we received no answer.
And then there’s the added cost of around-the-clock surveillance by Corrections Officers, who are working inordinate amounts of overtime per month. More on that story in another Bermuda Real report coming soon.
But as it stands now, we have what is fast approaching 50 inmates serving life behind bars for murder at a cost of more than $80,000 per year per inmate.
There’s an old saying that crime doesn’t pay – the question in – who exactly is paying? And is it sustainable with a multi-billion dollar deficit.
As quiet as its kept there are those with inquiring minds who are asking and getting no real answers.
Stay tuned for the follow up on just how many hours translates into overtime dollars for the men and women behind bars charged with dealing with Bermuda’s inmates 24/7, 365 days a year around the clock.