Legal practitioners and Prison Boss knock heads over conditions at the prisons
April 14, 2023

Legal practitioners and Prison Boss knock heads over conditions at the prisons

Lawyers have raised concerns over what they say are very poor conditions at His Majesty’s Prisons (HMP). However, the Assistant Superintendent of Prisons said the situation is not as bad as it is being portrayed and noted other major challenges they are faced with.

This was among a number of issues addressed at the closing of the Criminal Assizes on April 2, during which lawyers made it known that the conditions at HMP are unsatisfactory and could possibly be used as a mitigating factor in future cases, as they argued for lighter prison sentences due to what they said are inhumane conditions.

Speaking to SEARCHLIGHT on April 11, acting Superintendent of Prisons, Dwayne Bailey said that in the Kingstown facility there is an issue where inmates are still housed in a communal setting and there isn’t enough beds for everyone.

“Those might be the only issues,” he said.

Bailey said repairs were recently done on the roof of the prison; the cells were repainted; and the bathrooms and other aspects of the prison were fixed.

He said that the general conditions of the prisons had improved, however, at Belle Isle the challenges are not the same. Bailey said that every inmate has a bed and there are nine inmates per cell with bathroom and toilet facilities.

“There’s room for improvement as always, but the general condition is not bad… it is more than fit for human beings” Bailey said.

The acting Superintendent noted that work is regularly being done to remedy any issues that occur. He added that there have been instances where inmates have tampered with the electricity to try to get their cell phones charged and this causes electrical problems.

Apart from the conditions of the prisons, the presence of gangs is also a challenge.

Bailey said that the inmates who were affiliated with gangs while free, continue this affiliation in prison when sentenced and rival groups continue to war with each other inside the facility.

He said this causes management to have to separate inmates and they must be mindful that their physical placement may result in them making even bigger groups inside the prison.

“Those things are a challenge, but once we are made aware of them we address them,” Bailey said.

He also pointed to the issue of illegal items finding their way into the prisons despite measures being taken to properly secure the institution.

Bailey said that in Kingstown a re- enforced gate was built and barbed wires were added, however persons are now building ladders to gain access via the roof.

He noted that at Belle Isle people would hide contraband items on the farm and make contact via cellphone with inmates alerting them as to where the items can be found.