The Department of Correctional Services at Fox Hill. (File photo)
By AVA TURNQUEST
Tribune Chief Reporter
THE inhumane practice of “slopping” is still alive in the over-crowded maximum security block at the Bahamas Department of Correctional Services (BDCS), Fox Hill, according to Commissioner of Corrections Patrick Wright.
Commissioner Wright told The Tribune yesterday that the practice of manually removing human waste from prison cells by bucket would continue indefinitely until there is a new maximum security facility. He responded to questions during a site visit to the Road Traffic Licence Plate Production Facility at the (BDCS).
“Slopping still is alive,” he said. “Maximum security was built with no toilets, and that is where the overcrowding is in our facilities. All of the other (facilities) have built-in toilets. It’s maximum security that doesn’t have toilets. So until there is a new max security facility we will have slopping.”
When pressed on future plans, Commissioner Wright said: “Once we build a new max security - it (the old block) still has its use - it could be gutted out and put in the proper infrastructure. And we have done so to show the government, and the government worked with us. We have put some toilets in already to show that it can be done.”
Yesterday, Retired Anglican Archbishop Drexel Gomez confirmed that the Parole and Re-entry Steering Committee addressed the practice of “slopping” in its recommendations that were submitted to the government in September, 2016.
In February, Minister of National Security Dr Bernard Nottage said the recommendations were approved, and has maintained that he will table the report before the House of Assembly is dissolved before the general election.
The Parole and Re-entry Steering Committee, appointed in May, 2016, was chaired by Paul Farquharson, the former Commissioner of Police and Bahamas High Commissioner to London. Archbishop Gomez and Reverend Patrick Paul, a past president of the Bahamas Christian Council, were also named to the Steering Committee.
“It’s one of the recommendations, that whole system has to be totally replaced,” Archbishop Gomez said. “We are still are in the difficult position in that the thing (report) hasn’t gone to Parliament. I haven’t asked any questions, I’ve been so busy with Lent. I’ve spoken to the authorities about it, not just in writing. They are aware of it. It’s just a question of being willing to spend the money to pay for it. It’s something that has received wide comment.
“My fear is the average Bahamian feels like when you go to jail your life should be as miserable as possible. It’s a very unChristian attitude. So I don’t think they will be too concerned unless their own family is (incarcerated).”
The Parole and Re-entry Steering committee is part of the government’s overarching strategy to address the challenges of crime in the Bahamas through its Citizens Security and Justice Programme, financed by a $20 million loan from the Inter-American Development Bank.
The Ministry of National Security projects that 95 per cent of incarcerated criminals are expected to re-enter society over the next ten years, with statistics indicating that 45 per cent of persons housed at the BDCS are on remand.