COMMISSIONER of the Department of Correctional Services Charles Murphy.
By syann thompson
Tribune Staff Reporter
COMMISSIONER of the Department of Correctional Services Charles Murphy has called claims that he victimised and intimidated correctional officers “baseless allegations”.
Ryan Wilson, president of the Correctional Officers Staff Association, this week threatened that officers would “revolt” as they have been victims of “intimidation” tactics of the commissioner who they claim makes frequent walkabouts and transfers officers on a whim. However, Commissioner Murphy told The Tribune that “this is not an issue”.
According to Mr Murphy, Mr Wilson was “out of line” for speaking to the media. “Mr Wilson is totally out of order, in violation of the General Orders and in violation of the Correctional Act. It’s not a union, it’s an association. All of his grievances are supposed to be presented to the commissioner first, who will take them to the minister (of national security) — he’s in total violation,” said Mr Murphy.
When asked if he received any formal complaints in writing, Mr Murphy said: “Not one line, not one word.”
In a statement issued on Wednesday, Mr Wilson outlined issues with Commissioner Murphy that include senior officers allegedly being disrespected daily; officers being treated like inmates and the president of the association allegedly being attacked personally for addressing pertinent matters affecting staff. Also, the association complained about a new policy that restricts the amount of medication and food officers can bring into the Fox Hill compound when on duty. While Mr Murphy did not speak to this issue, over the past few years several correctional officers have been arrested and charged in connection with smuggling contraband into the facility.
Staff morale is said to have been impacted due to health matters and working conditions. Mr Murphy refuted these concerns, saying improvements to the physical state of the facility have been progressing under his leadership.
“We’ve never had such a great change and thrust of improving the environment in the prison today since I took office. So there shouldn’t be an issue as to conditions. The conditions are being improved daily. We are remodelling the whole cell block and housing units for the inmates to live and for the officers to work – new office area, new restroom, lounge, air-conditioning — just some of the things we have implemented and continue to do,” the correctional chief said.
The slop bucket system is still used for inmates to urinate and defecate in due to a lack of toilets in some areas, which the association said is a health hazard to officers. When asked directly about the sanitation of BDCS, Mr Murphy said, “We are making some efforts to improve the condition and the situation. We are moving towards correcting them. We are improving upon the working environment and the conditions for our staff.”
In the midst of the allegations, Mr Murphy said that he will continue to carry out his duties and obligations for the betterment of his organisation. He said, “As far as I’m concerned the association nor Mr Wilson could never have the best interest of the officers and the organisation at heart more than me. I am going on to do what I was appointed to do and that is to run the organisation and run it in a professional way and to the standards of international policies.”