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Bahamas Correctional Officers Association Wants To See Audits On Facility's Spending

The Department of Correctional Services at Fox Hill.

The Department of Correctional Services at Fox Hill.

By RASHAD ROLLE

Tribune Staff Reporter

rrolle@tribunemedia.net

THE Bahamas Correctional Officers Association wants the Christie administration to disclose financial statements and audits related to the Department of Correctional Services amid concerns of how the facility’s money is used.

BCOA Chairman Gregory Archer estimated yesterday that the Bahamas Department of Correctional Services, formerly Her Majesty’s Prison, makes millions of dollars per year through its various services, including its commissary.

However, he decried the fact that his association is not privy to information concerning how the money is secured and used, even though it represents prison officers.

For his part, Auditor General Terrance Bastian could not say when was the last time that his department conducted an audit of the prison, although he acknowledged that there are plans in place for his department to do so.

The Tribune understands that within the last two years an audit of the correctional facility was done by the Ministry of Finance’s internal audit department.

A source familiar with the audit, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said it revealed areas where “controls ought to be tightened.”

The concerns of prison officers comes as they continue to express frustration with their working conditions and a government they believe is unresponsive to their problems.

Mr Archer said: “We need to look at things like this. I can’t accuse anybody of wrongdoing, but talk of corruption in this place has been going on for years.

“Most of the staff complains that despite the amount of money made, they have no idea where the money is going. We have different things going on. We have the commissary. We have the inmates’ industry selling straw items. But when you ask for boots or new uniforms, which are obligated to you, they say there’s no money for it. Who is policing the money? We are the association representing the officers, but we don’t know.

“If we write about this, they would tell us that it is not our concern. Selling food to inmates produces about $16,000 a day, but what does the prison have to show for this?”

“The staff complains that they can’t get certification training or uniforms on a daily basis, which is important as the prison transitions into more of a correctional services unit. But to be trained you need money. Officers go on trips but they don’t get certification to help them with their mobility on the force. We have to be able to go on courses with teeth to it.

“We have never gotten a response when we ask for an audit. We will never know what’s going on,” Mr Archer said.

Concerns about the prison’s finances are not new.

In 2004, then National Security Permanent Secretary Mark Wilson acknowledged that the auditor general’s office had suggested that the ministry conduct a formal investigation into the prison accounts.

It came amid allegations at the time that $2 million had gone missing.

More recently, in 2012, a US Human Rights report described how the commissary account of a deceased prisoner was “exhausted by unauthorized persons,” adding that “there was significant evidence that prison officials failed to ensure the security” of that person’s account.

Attempts to reach officials at the correctional facility, Ministry of Finance and Ministry of National Security were not successful up to press time yesterday.

Comments

EasternGate 3 years, 11 months ago

How in the world any decent minded citizen can vote PLP in 2017 is beyond me!

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Sickened 3 years, 11 months ago

Luckily for the PLP our population is 80% ignorant! So getting re-elected isn't a difficult obstacle to overcome!

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SP 3 years, 11 months ago

................................... Nobody could be surprised .................................................

Financial statements and audits related to all government departments and agencies are totally remiss.

The lack of audits and transparency explains Bahamas culture of corruption which reward political lackeys with positions of authority, exempt from transparency, scrutiny and accountability.

Health, education and security are among the largest recipients of the national budget and unquestionably the most corrupt departments.

Bahamas needs a new party mandated to address past and present corruption, committed to vigorously investigating and prosecuting ANYONE found guilty, starting with the office of Prime Minister.

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sealice 3 years, 11 months ago

OY - another teachable moment. We have already heard what the answer from Bell and Nottage is going to be, our police force is still in moldy stations unable to get any kind of overtime and Wayne joined the darkside. Dwight gotta get up and stand up for these guys to now.

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Sickened 3 years, 11 months ago

You think 'Christie the pool man' has the cafeteria contract too?

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MonkeeDoo 3 years, 11 months ago

There is an interesting read in the Nassau Guardian featuring Alfred Sears in November 2012. It describes the beginning or the end of Law and Accountability in Government under the PLP in the 70's with respect to Darcy Ryan. http://www.thenassauguardian.com/inde...">http://www.thenassauguardian.com/inde...

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TheMadHatter 3 years, 11 months ago

Her Majesty washed her hands of this place recently - allowing her name to be taken off of it. So there is no hope. There was none while her name was on it either.

Bahamians are dress-up-Sunday Christians.

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TheMadHatter 3 years, 11 months ago

Oh, yeah, and we really miss the annual audits published in the paper when the FNM was in power. Longing for the good old days when officers had fresh boots.

LOL.

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TalRussell 3 years, 11 months ago

Comrades we can acknowledge mistakes were made by the both of the political parties previous administrations but it is an expression that is too commonly used as a rhetorical device by both the governing and opposition politicians. Lets acknowledges that governing was and is being handled poorly and inappropriately, then move on to start correcting what needs correcting, not use it as a compass of excuses for today's inefficiencies. and mistakes. Thousands are going without paychecks but that seems be so muted in the out-of-steps decision making processes of government and the opposition.

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Sickened 3 years, 11 months ago

Finally, the Tal I like is back. Can you talk with your brother Birdie and together we can all move this country forward. For far too many years our country has been moving backwards. Let us try for once to vote in good governance so that we can get this jewel of a nation to sparkle once more. The best candidate in our area may be Red, Yellow, Green or Independent. We need to pick the best among them, period!

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TalRussell 3 years, 11 months ago

Comrade nothing new my words. I have not changed - always advocated to displace political parties as the only way elect our House of Assembly representatives. The trick is the best way citizens move towards this new peoples power. If not a build-up toward people power, who then will come to the rescue Bahamaland?

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asiseeit 3 years, 11 months ago

There is not one government entity that does not have corruption eating away at it from the inside. Bahamians just can not live without stealing, being lawless, or trying to swing one another. Christan nation my ass! More like the playground of the devil.

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