By DANA SMITH
Tribune Staff Reporter
PRISON Superintendent Elliston Rahming said the installation of payphones at Her Majesty’s Prison is one proposal that could potentially combat the number of illegal cellphones at the Fox Hill prison.
Although he admitted the country may not be ready for such an initiative, Dr Rahming explained that payphone installation is still an item he is “certainly” considering.
“Contraband is an ever present problem in any prison and you just try as best as you can to reduce the inflow of contraband, but the problem has always been here, it will always be here, and our job is to keep it to a minimum,” he said.
Revealing cellphones are the most common contraband item at HMP, Dr Rahming continued: “When persons are incarcerated, you don’t lose your desire to
relate and affiliate, and so that is why many prisons in North America have installed payphones for inmates.
“They can use them whenever they’re on their recreational break. Of course the calls are monitored. I don’t know if The Bahamas is ready for that sort of thing, but I’m certainly proposing it.”
Payphone usage would be “controlled” to ensure they are not being used for criminal purposes, but the average inmate simply wants to communicate “just to find out how people are doing,” Dr Rahming said.
“The odd inmate, who wants to use it for ulterior purposes, that is the reason why all calls would have to be monitored and listened to by staff to ensure that the pay phones are not used for criminal enterprises.”
It was at the end of August that the prison superintendent revealed that prison officers confiscate as many as 20 cellphones per week.
“Cellular phones are rampant in prisons throughout the world,” he said. “While our problem is challenging, it pales in insignificance compared to other places, yet we want to bring it to a minimum because of the potential harm that cell phones can cause within the penal institution.”
Dr Rahming said officers confiscate so many cell phones because of the prison’s “rigorous” search programme.
“We have a bonfire every quarter where we literally burn cell phones that are confiscated,” he said.