“Nefarious officers” who smuggle cellphones into prison for inmates are said to be among the greatest contributors to the 530 cellphones being found amongst 399 inmates.
“That’s more than one phone per prisoner, and those are ones you managed to seize,” Justice Brian Cottle said as he added how disheartening it is to hear that the phones are being used “to reach out to” and “interfere” with victims.
These statistics were presented by Superintendent of Prisons Dwayne Bailey, at the Closing of the Assizes yesterday, December 21 at the High Court.
Bailey said there are 399 inmates in prison. Of these, 391 are male and 8 prisoners are female, and from among them, a total of 530 cellphones have been confiscated.
He added that family members and friends who toss phones over the prison walls also contribute to these “vexing” statistics as well.
Bailey said that he personally removed all the batteries from the phones, and took the phones to a landfill for them to be destroyed.
Besides cellphones, Bailey said that prisoners are often found with home-made weapons such as sharpened toothbrushes. However, these weapons are a small fraction of the banned items that have been found in prison in 2023.
During the course of this year, inmates have been found with with cell phone chargers, cell phone batteries, headphones, ear pads, power pack, pairs of scissors, six diggers which are used to inflict injuries during fights, hacksaw blade, as well as marijuana, high lead and cigarettes.
And as at April 2023, a total of 120 phones had been confiscated within the walls of the two penal institutions in St Vincent and the Grenadines.
However, in order to counteract this issue, several new officers have been appointed to work at the prisons and security lights will be added at the Belle Isle Correctional facility.
Another measure that has been put in place to deter the possession of contraband in prison, is the Family Day event, where prisoners who are found with cellphones or otherwise misbehave will not be allowed to see their families at this event.
The new policy saw around five per cent of the prison population being excluded from this year’s Family Day event which was held in Kingstown on Wednesday, December 13 and at Belle Isle Prison on Thursday, December 14.