LESS THAN a month after the Supreme Court approved payment of $9 million to 78-year-old Alfred "Ivan Barrows" Nettleford in compensation for his unjustified 28-year incarceration, a cheque valued at $1 million was handed over to his two appointed trustees yesterday.
The cheques were handed out at the offices of the Independent Jamaica Council for Human Rights on Tower Street in Kingston. The remaining $8 million is expected to be paid over in tranches by the end of June this year. Interest is being accrued as it would on judgement debt if the payment is not completed within the specified period.
Alfred Nettleford, who has been diagnosed with schizophrenia, was jailed in 1972 by the Chapelton police in Clarendon, on charges of malicious destruction of property after he allegedly broke a window in Chapelton. From there, he was transferred to the May Pen police lock-up before being sent to the Bellevue Hospital, then to the General Penitentiary and finally, the St. Catherine Adult Correctional Centre without trial.
Although the offence carries a maximum sentence of five years, Mr. Nettleford spent 28 years and three months in the penal system before his release in 2001. He was lost in the system primarily because his name was changed from 'Alfred Nettleford' to 'Ivan Barrows', while he was being moved from one penal institution to the other.
His 2001 release came through the efforts of the Independent Jamaica Council for Human Rights (IJCHR) after his discovery by a prison psychiatrist in 1999.
In an interview with The Gleaner, Legal Officer at the IJCHR, Nancy Anderson said that "although $9 million is nothing when you have lost 28 years of your life," she was pleased that the government agreed to compensate Mr. Nettleford. She lamented, however, that up to this moment, no government official has made an apology to Mr. Nettleford for the inconvenience he suffered though the penal system. According to her, "it is important that we admit that people are treated like that so that it doesn't happen again."
Mr. Nettleford's nephew, Hubert Graham, and his niece, Beverly White, who have been appointed as trustees, will administer the funds. Less than two years ago, Mr. Graham began a project to construct a home for Mr. Nettleford, who is currently residing with his sister in Aenon Town, Clarendon. The project was stalled due to lack of funding.