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  • Bugs crawl over the body of a man as he lies in the insect-infested cell that has been

  • his home for 40 years.

  • His starved body is covered in leaking sores.

  • Various critters have made a meal of his legs, back, and chest.

  • He looks at the wall, listening to the familiar din that is the chaos of one of the worst

  • prisons in the world, a place many people go to die.

  • Forty years, forty long years, and this man has never been proven guilty.

  • In fact, he is still waiting for his trial, but he's not holding out much hope he'll

  • get a date with a judge.

  • He could be innocent.

  • Who knows?

  • Lost in the so-called system, a system so mean and dark it has often been called a living

  • hell on earth.

  • Could the state not even give him a chance to defend himself?

  • The man we're talking about, Noel Chambers, was held at a prison in Kingston, Jamaica,

  • called theTower Street Adult Correctional Centre.”

  • You might not have heard much before about prisons in Jamaica, but let's just say they

  • don't exactly screamhuman rights.”

  • Countless foreigners who have been locked up in the country have described life behind

  • bars there as being brutal to the extreme.

  • Beatings are dished out daily by the guards.

  • Inmates brazenly walk around with knives and machetes.

  • You worry every day that it will be your last.

  • And they aren't exaggerating.

  • Official reports on the prisons describe them ashorrific,” stating that men live in

  • overcrowded, filthy cells.

  • If they can't pay for extra food, they subsist primarily onrice and sugary water,”

  • which is served to them twice a day.

  • Violence isn't just common, it's expected throughout each and every day.

  • As former inmates have described, if you don't pay for protection, your life will be miserable.

  • As for the foreign inmates, almost half of them are from the UK, men who either trafficked

  • or simply used drugs in Jamaica.

  • One of those British drug users was a weed smoker who ended up in a juvenile facility.

  • He had to fight just so he could get a place to sleep other than the floor.

  • Another Brit went to the adult prison, where he described the guards acting likeanimals.”

  • He said some of those guards were shot dead by inmates, while inmates often stabbed each

  • other to death with weapons bought from the guards or dished outserious, serious beatings.”

  • He said you couldhear the popping soundswhen officers would use thick batons to beat

  • inmates on their joints.

  • He summed it up, saying, “There are no human rights at all.”

  • His stories have been backed up by the UN, with one rapporteur saying he found many inmates

  • who had been subjected to brutal violence.

  • The report said, “Being jailed in Jamaica is a harrowing experience even for those who

  • are just detained and awaiting trial.

  • Legal proceedings and court appearances often take a long time and can be delayed.”

  • Let those words sink in, “awaiting trial”... can be delayed.”

  • Just imagine if you were innocent and you had to spend any amount of time in a place

  • we've just described.

  • Really imagine what it would be like if you had to spend a year there.

  • Now imagine you went in, hoping you'd get a speedy trial, and then a year passed, and

  • then a decade, and then another decade, and another.

  • That's what happened to Mr. Chambers, but there are many others with stories just like

  • his.

  • In fact, when his story came out, subsequent investigations discovered that there were

  • inmates who, just like Chambers, had never seen a judge and had wallowed in prisons with

  • virtually no hope of it ever happening.

  • A commission that was set up found 15 such inmates who had been behind bars for over

  • 30 years without getting the chance to defend themselves.

  • How does something so horrible like this happen?

  • And perhaps more importantly, who is to blame?

  • Well, some blame the courts rather than the prisons.

  • The prisons are doing what they've been told to do: keep a person locked up until

  • they are informed that the person's case is going to trial.

  • The problem is, Jamaica doesn't have a mental health facility in which to hold certain prisoners.

  • There used to be one called Bellevue Hospital in Kingston, but that stopped accepting prisoners

  • in1979.

  • Since then, those deemed mentally unwell just get thrown in with the other prisoners, and

  • because some of them are poorly represented and perhaps unfit to act on their own behalf,

  • they get lost in the system.

  • But the thing is, Chambers was of sound mind for many years, just the same as many other

  • prisoners who were said to be not fit for trial.

  • Reports state that inmates at that prison regularly write to complain about the inhumane

  • conditions, but often the last people that do that are the prisoners with mental health

  • problems.

  • What's even worse is that some of those inmates essentially rot away because they

  • can't properly take care of themselves.

  • In 1986, 6 years into his sentence, Chambers petitioned the governor-general for his release,

  • but that petition fell on deaf ears.

  • In 2005, his family asked that he at least be released on parole since he had served

  • 25 years for a murder he may or may not have committed.

  • The response to them could have been straight out of the novel Catch-22.

  • Sure, he deserved to be out due to all the time he's served, but we can't let him

  • out because he hasn't been found guilty by the courts.

  • He was serving time not because of the alleged crime but because the courts didn't even

  • want to try and convict him of a crime.

  • He was trapped in a paradox that made him un-releasable.

  • If that makes little sense to you, don't worry, it has confused many people since the

  • news broke.

  • What's even more confounding is that various times throughout his 40-year sentence, he

  • was indeed certified as mentally fit to plead his case, but he never got to do that for

  • some strange reason.

  • The last time he had a chance was in 2016, but he was close to death by that time since

  • he had acute kidney disease and prostate cancer.

  • Not long after, he showed signs of dementia and couldn't eat.

  • It was likely that officials hoped he'd pass away in his dingy cell and be forgotten,

  • but that didn't happen, and word soon got out.

  • A human rights activist who heard about his case had this to say:

  • People talk about being lost in corrections.

  • They are not lost.

  • Corrections know about them and take care of them every day.

  • What they are is forgotten; they are forgotten every day and they are forgotten by the courts.”

  • Prison officers In Jamaica have to check on a person each morning and make sure they have

  • water at night, but they are also supposed to write reports on the state of inmates if

  • they don't look well.

  • Chambers was clearly dying, and yet no such reports were written.

  • He was only finally taken to the prison hospital after he was found unresponsive in his cell.

  • Soon after, he was dead, but the prison tried to hide the fact he'd not been treated at

  • the prison hospital prior to being found unconscious.

  • When Chambers died, his body was described as being in a condition so wretched it was

  • hard to even look at it.

  • One person said on Twitter, “I just saw the images of NoelChambers body and I cannot

  • understand this level of cruelty.”

  • Another comment just said, “That's not real.

  • No man.

  • No…”

  • Twitter wasn't around when Chambers was first locked up, the same year that Pac-Man

  • came out.

  • Jamaicans on Twitter tried to make sense of this, with one saying, “Noel Chambers was

  • basically tortured for 40 years.”

  • Another Jamaican Twitter user said about such cases, “There needs to be some form of accountability

  • for this disregard of mentally ill detainees.”

  • His story shocked Jamaica and much of the world, but the silver lining to this sad tale

  • is that at least some good things came out of it.

  • Nine other prisoners certified as unfit to stand trial actually got a chance to plead

  • after Noel Chambers' story was made public and they are now free men.

  • But tragically, over 130 others in the same position who have been behind bars for years

  • still haven't been given a chance to go to court.

  • If that's not shocking enough, something even more disturbing came out after Chambers'

  • death.

  • This is the story of a man called George Williams.

  • Just like Chambers, he too is behind bars, and he hasn't been given a trial date.

  • Guess how long he's been incarcerated as possibly an innocent man?

  • The answer is 49 years!

  • Yep, you heard that right.

  • He is one of seven men identified in a recent report which found that they have been in

  • prison for over 40 years without ever going in front of a judge.

  • Williams, like Chambers, at times during his sentence, was certified as being fit to stand

  • trial, but also like Chambers, he still never got his day in court.

  • This is what he said about that, “I feel so good, but every time I was disappointed

  • when I learned that my fate may be to die in here before I ever see a courthouse again.”

  • He said he's spent almost 50 years with convicted murderers and seen them get out

  • even as he remains locked up.

  • He's even seen guys on death row get released.

  • He called the prison a living hell, and that quote, “insects feed on my body both day

  • and night.”

  • His application was looked at by the director of prosecutions, who said she'd review all

  • the information but that it couldn't be rushed.

  • Without any hint of irony she said, “We can't take any shortcuts.”

  • And there has been some good news.

  • Williams' case was finally looked at, and he was subsequently released.

  • His lawyer was over the moon for him but perhaps chose the wrong words when speaking to the

  • press.

  • He said, “We are overwhelmed.

  • Nobody can be as happy as George today having his day in court.

  • This is what I called swift justice.”

  • Hmm, perhaps not swift enough.

  • As for the 49 years behind bars, the lawyer put that down to what he calledbureaucratic

  • lag.”

  • When Williams walked out of prison, he was met by a cheering crowd, although it seems

  • the 71-year old might not have had the best of days just before his release.

  • A Jamaican newspaper wrote, “George Williams was released from prison after spending close

  • to 50 years behind bars without a trial.

  • With a black eye from a beating on the weekend, Williams was met by family members and supporters.”

  • Just as Williams was being released, another inmate who'd never seen a judge because

  • he was deemed unfit to stand trial was also set free.

  • His name is Abraham Lawrence, and he'd spent 25 years behind bars for nothing more than

  • throwing stones at a police car in 1994.

  • A psychiatrist said this about the men, “What we are seeing here is clear evidence of exploitation

  • and structural violence by systems that are in place to protect them.”

  • Those words came just weeks after an inmate was beaten to death by a guard.

  • The Jamaican Prime Minister is of course aware of the case of the deceased Chambers and described

  • the situation astragic and heartbreaking,” saying there was a need for prison reform.

  • He asked for a multi-agency examination to make sure it doesn't happen again, but you

  • have to wonder how it happened in the first place.

  • Following an audit, the government has said that there are now no prisoners like Chambers

  • and Williams who are lost in the system but added that Jamaica's infamous horror prisons

  • need a massive overhaul.

  • The Labor Party politician Robert Montague called for a new state-of-the-art correctional

  • facility, but the government says there just isn't enough room in the budget to build

  • one.

  • He said, “We're not unmindful of the conditions, but the taxpayer is overburdened, and we are

  • moving with haste to correct the situation.”

  • Now you need to see how the US treats some prisoners with, “Why Prisoner Proven Innocent

  • Can't Be Released.”

  • Or, have a look atInnocent on Death Row, Here's What You Actually Get When You're Released.”

Bugs crawl over the body of a man as he lies in the insect-infested cell that has been

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Why Man Died in Prison After Waiting 40 Years for Trial Date

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    Summer posted on 2021/06/20
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