Prison Officers Deeply Concerned

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Prison Officers Deeply Concerned

A group of officers at Her Majesty’s Prison say they are at their wits end with what they consider a disgusting state of affairs that persist at the institution, despite their many complaints.

The officers do not wish to identify themselves for security reasons and say they have been repeatedly victimized by the authorities.

The Grenada Informer recently published articles about the questionable state of administration at the prison and cited incidents of conflict between inmates and officers that should be cause for concern.

The prison authorities subsequently gave the assurance that all was well at Her Majesty’s Prison and there was no real cause for concern.

Some officers working at the institution disagree and in their words, “it is time to let the public know about the conditions under which we work”. 

According to the officers, they start every morning with over 250 prisoners’ slop pails on the ground in an area known as ‘the back yard”. They said the officer posted in the tower has to inhale that unpleasant smell until it is removed. Secondly whenever rain falls the officers in the towers have to seek shelter under a piece of ply to avoid getting soaked. They say they have had several meetings in the past with authorities since this has been one of the main concerns of all officers. According to the disgusted officers, the present Commissioner of Prisons would tell them “rest assured I am gonna fix it” but up to this day nothing has been done. They claim that instead of fixing the towers the prison authorities had a house and a shop built for a female ex convict using prisoners and officers to attend to the project until its completion.

The fed-up officers lament that inmates have lost all respect for officers. They use obscene language and threatening language in their presence and sometimes even assault officers.  When these matters are brought to the chief officer, they said, most times the prisoner wins because “the chief” and most of the prisoners are friends.

According to the report, in recent times an inmate stabbed an officer with a pen when the officer went to serve him breakfast. The officer then called for help and the inmate was restrained and returned to his cell. The following day the same inmate threw the contents of his pail on an officer soiling him from head to toe. The inmate was again restrained and put in his cell and in the struggle, his foot broken. In the words of the officers, “the chief officer was mad to charge all the officers involved.”

 In another incident, the officers said, an inmate was ordered by an officer to remove himself from an area he shouldn’t have been in. He disobeyed the officers’ order so the officer used the necessary force to move him. Two weeks later the inmate was seen with a cast on his arm, which he said was because the officer had broken his arm in two places. A month after the incident, the officer was issued with a charge sheet for breaking the inmate’s arm. 

The group of officers at the Richmond Hill Prison says they are seriously understaffed with one officer being posted in an area with over 250 prisoners on a daily basis and still as soon as an officer makes a mistake he is charged. “We don’t get any counseling, which is something the present commissioner promised he would seriously look into. It never happened.” 

“He seems only to care about his inmates and not about officers except the ones that go to his office and gossip on other officers, or call him on the phone and give him information concerning their colleagues because promotion is around the corner and everyone wants stripes.” 

In another incident, the report said recently the Criminal Investigation Department, CID, called the Commissioner to tell him that they wanted a certain officer at their office. The commissioner asked the reason and they refused to tell him. When the officer reported to the CID he was told that someone had called saying that he brings phones and SIM cards into the maximum-security area, for some of the more notorious prisoners. They said instead of the authorities doing an investigation into the matter, a certain highly ranked officer was heard saying that he believes the officer is guilty.

The concerned officers are pleading with the Minister of National Security, Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell, asking for his intervention at Her majesty’s Prison before the situation there gets more out of hand and beyond control.

Click here to read the Prison Commissioner’s response.

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