By EARYEL BOWLEG
NATIONAL Security Minister Marvin Dames says the government will rectify the problem of Bahamas Department of Correctional Services officers having to collect human waste in bags and transport it away in trucks.
Due to a lack of toilets in some areas, a slop bucket system is used for inmates to urinate and defecate. The minister told Parliament yesterday the maximum security unit was built without plumbing, so consequently no space for toilets was considered.
He laid out initiatives to improve sanitation at BDCS and said the longstanding issue had “fallen on deaf ears”.
“The men and women at the Department of Corrections have been crying out to their leaders. However, their cries have fallen on deaf ears….. We will not accept, not this government, that officers in a modern Bahamas will have to collect and transport human feces in bags and trucks.
“Although we are in difficult times, we have begun a pledge to rectify this problem once and for all. Mr Speaker to improve conditions, biodegradable sanitised waste bags. . .were introduced to the inmates (so they) can properly and securely dispose of their waste.”
Mr Dames announced a sanitation truck will be purchased in the upcoming fiscal period for safe transport and removal of the waste.
Yet, he admitted the remand centre water system is challenged when trying to supply water to the cell blocks for hygienic purposes.
Despite issues at the facility, he said there are no COVID-19 confirmed cases at BDCS.
Mr Dames also noted the improvements that have been done so far at BDCS in effort to help with rehabilitation.
He said: “We’re trying to transform the prison…it’s a very old facility. . .You can say we need a new one but we’re not in that financial state where we can have a new prison at this moment but we can certainly improve the condition of the one that’s currently there.
“See, you can’t talk about rehabilitation. You need a plan for rehabilitation …there has to be a process. You can’t rehabilitate someone if they living in a hog pen. You ain’t serious about it.”
He held up a picture of the prison’s administrative building explaining the roof was destroyed after Hurricane Matthew and work was done to address the issue.
To improve sleeping conditions, he explained the government invested some $409,000 for 100 bunk beds which were constructed by inmates.
A fund of $328,000 was invested in renovations of maximum security’s southern wig transforming it into a modern cell block. This consists of new flooring and masonry.
More than $1m will be invested for security and communication equipment and $200,000 for primitive fencing to reduce intrusion, escapes, and entrance of contraband. Some $46,368 will be invested for an x-ray and ultra-scan machine, he said.