By RICARDO WELLS
Tribune Staff Reporter
OFFICERS at the Bahamas Department of Correctional Services yesterday insisted that their facility is again falling prey to a scabies outbreak.
High-ranking sources stationed at the Fox Hill compound said that over the last two weeks, more than 30 inmates have been treated on the property for the contagious skin infection.
One source said despite this being public knowledge among officers, administrators at the Bahamas Department of Correctional Services (BDCS) have opted not to address the matter with employees.
“It’s alarming, all of this (is) going on right in front of us and the superiors carry on the day-to-day operations like we don’t understand what this means,” said another source.
That source explained that officers are once again being forced to put their “health and well-being on the line for a government service that refuses to value us”.
“We aren’t idiots, as the days go on we can see that something isn’t right. Guys go in to see the doctor, come out, (they are) prescribed the same cream – we can see what is happening.
“Why isn’t this being addressed with us so we could know how to protect ourselves so we don’t, in some way, take this back home to our families?”
Bahamas Prison Officers Association President Gregory Archer, when contacted by The Tribune for comment, said he heard some reports about the outbreak from fellow officers, but was working to get confirmation from the facility’s administrators.
He added that while the reports were unfortunate, it did not come as a surprise to him.
According to Sgt Archer, issues like scabies have the potential, if present in the facility, to “run rampant because of the poor conditions” at the compound.
“We have hundreds of inmates, hundreds – yet, one washer and one dryer,” added Sgt Archer.
“When you have an issue with scabies, isolation and proper treatment is gravely important. Here, everything seems to run together, from the washing of (clothing) to the grouping of inmates.”
He went on to say that matters that can affect the well being of officers deserve the most attention. He added that no matter how small the claim, the issue should be taken seriously.
Sgt Archer said: “We are men and women working to house the persons separated from society. We work hard and do our best. We deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.”
In January, the majority of officers scheduled to work at the Department of Correctional Services staged a three-day sick out.
At that time, senior staff members indicated that “festering” issues had been left unresolved by government officials for months.
Chief among those issues was reportedly the reluctance by officials to address the health concerns raised by officers.
Department of Correctional Services Commissioner Patrick Wright could not be reached for comment yesterday.
According to his office, Commissioner Wright spent most of the day in meetings.