Ivan gets $9 million
published: Sunday | February 2, 2003
Glenda Anderson, Staff Reporter
IN A LANDMARK decision, the Government of Jamaica has awarded 77-year-old
Ivan Nettleford the sum of $9 million for having suffered unnecessarily in
the island's penal system for 29 years.
"A settlement figure of $9 million has been reached which is subject to the
court's approval and the appointment of trustees," said Nancy Anderson,
secretary of the Independent Jamaica Council for Human Rights (IJCHR) and
the legal officer who has been working to effect the resolution.
Legal documents to finalise the proceedings were filed last week in the
Supreme Court by his lawyers."Once we get a (court) date I anticipate that
payment should begin in the month of February," Ms. Anderson said but
explained that a schedule of payment had also been worked out by which 'the
full sum should be paid by the end of June.'
Under the agreement, Mr. Nettleford's nephew, Hubert Graham, and niece,
Beverly Whyte, are to be appointed as legal trustees of his affairs.
A relieved Mr. Graham said that while the sum was very small, it was very
"I don't think it's fair but it's enough to make him comfortable and take
care of some things for him. For instance we really need to finish the
house, and especially the bathroom. And he'll have something to take care of
the medical bills," he said.
According to Ms. Anderson, the Nettleford claim represents the first time a
mentally ill person has been compensated for wrongful imprisonment in
"Definitely, I think it would have been the first time, and it shows that
the Government is accepting some responsibility for the false detention of
Mr. Nettleford," she said.
Diagnosed as schizophrenic, Ivan Nettleford was lost in the system partly
because his name was changed by prison authorities to Ivan Barrows as he
moved from one penitentiary to another across the island.
Mr. Nettleford initially broke a window in Chapelton, Clarendon, in 1972.
The offence normally carries a maximum five-year sentence. Mr. Nettleford
was transferred from Chapelton jail to the May Pen jail before being sent to
From there, he was transferred to the General Penitentiary and finally the
St. Catherine Adult Correctional Centre.
He was finally released in March 2001 through the efforts of the IJCHR after
being discovered by a prison psychiatrist in 1999.
FLAWS IN THE SYSTEM
In an earlier Gleaner report, Nancy Anderson, IJCHR Secretary, pointed to
flaws in the system which accounted for his situation.
These include the fact that, when ordered by the Resident Magistrate to be
held for treatment for mental illness and to re-appear in court when fit to
plea, there was no follow-up. No date was set for his return to court. In
prison apparently no social worker was assigned to his case.
"There may not have been a doctor. If there were, he might have only been
part-time or overworked, so Mr. Nettleford probably never received a medical
examination while in prison," Ms. Anderson said.
"Because of his mental condition, he may not have been able to speak up for
himself or complain to the superintendent, so he was further overlooked.
"His constitutional right to a fair trial within a 'reasonable' time was
Following on Mr. Nettleford's discovery, Chief Justice Lensley Wolfe issued
a practice direction that monthly reports on the welfare of mentally ill
persons remanded in custody should be presented to the Resident Magistrates.
In addition, a 'Procedural Manual for Dealing With the Mentally Ill in
Prison' was drafted by representatives from the Mental Health Unit of the
Ministry of Health (MoH), the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), the
Department of Corrections (DOC), the IJCHR, and the Department of Public
Recently, however, a call to the island's correctional institutions by the
Public Defender for a complete list of mentally ill detainees has not
yielded any success, while human rights officials say the number in prisons
may well stand at about 500 persons.