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Barbados 19th on prisoners’ list


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by TONY BEST BARBADOS MAY NOT be among the globe’s homicide capitals, but it is on the international list of the highest rates of incarcerations based on population.

According to The Economist Pocket World In Figures 2019, Barbados had 300 inmates in 2018 for every 100 000 people.

That rate earned it the 19th spot on the worldwide prisoners’ list. With Barbados’ population at about 290 000, the publication stated that like a host of nations and dependent territories, Barbados’ lone prison at Dodds in St Philip was well-stocked with criminals serving time, and accused awaiting trial.

The US Virgin Islands was in 4th place with a rate of 542 for every 100 000 people; Cuba’s 510 placed it sixth; The Bahamas was eighth with 438 inmates; Bermuda’s 319 was 16th; Puerto Rico was 18th with 313 inmates; Guyana was 25th with 278; while Trinidad and Tobago was 26th with 270 prisoners.

By the end of last year, the United States led all countries with 2.1 million prisoners, and that gave it a rate of 655 per 100 000, at least twice the size of Barbados’. China was next with a total of 1.6 million and a rate of 614 while Turkmenistan’s 583 put it in third place.

12 murders

Understandably, the figures that were on most people’s minds were for homicides.

Barbados, which has recorded 12 murders so far this year, did not make the grade but several Caribbean and Latin American countries figured prominently.

The homicide numbers, which dated back to 2015 and included “the latest figures available”, showed that the Spanish, English, Dutch, French and Creolespeaking countries in the Western Hemisphere had good reason to be concerned about the pace of killings. That list was headed by El Salvador with 105.4 murders per 100 000 people in a population of almost three million. Honduras was next with 57.5 murders, followed by Venezuela 57.5, the US Virgin Islands, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, the Dominican Republic Puerto Rico, Mexico and Botswana. The Caribbean’s ready access to the illegal gun markets of Venezuela and US is being blamed for the sky-high homicide rate in the region.

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