The Bahamas Department of Correctional Services.
By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Senior Reporter
WAYNE Munroe said prison officers’ ability to smuggle cell phones and contraband into prison has largely been curtailed but officials face a new challenge: officers who retrieve and distribute drugs that are thrown over the prison’s walls.
His comment came after Prime Minister Philip “Brave” Davis told corrections officers his administration has no tolerance for misconduct from them.
The men spoke at the opening ceremony of a prison staff empowerment seminar at Faith United Baptist Church yesterday.
“The US Embassy,” Mr Munroe said, “donated to us the scanners and so they now scan clothing and where contraband was coming in the shoes, I’m told that that’s basically cut out.
“Now we’re concerned with people throwing drugs over the wall. The prison officers are the only ones with free movement retrieving them. Commissioner (Don) Cleare is alert to this, they have patrol teams to deal with it. There are also now some CCTV cameras in the hallway. We’re looking to use more technology to address these issues.”
Earlier, Mr Davis lamented the fact that officers sometimes behave unlawfully and said his administration is determined to hold such people accountable.
“As officers in charge of upholding and enforcing the laws and rules of this institution, I would have thought it unnecessary to remind you of the need to ensure that your own behaviour also falls within the laws and rules which you impose on others,” he said.
“Sadly this is not the case. I understand that some among you are still tempted to facilitate the prohibited use of cell phones, and continue to collude in the smuggling and use of illegal drugs within the institution.
“You should be in no doubt that my administration’s policy is to hold any lawbreakers among you to the highest account, and prosecuted to the full extent of the law.”
Mr Davis continued: “Apart from the obvious legal offence, engaging in such behaviour completely undermines the moral authority of everything that we seek to do here. How can we ask inmates not to break laws, when they know that some officers do? And how can we claim that personal self-discipline, and adherence to law and order, is a better way for all of us to live, if the very people charged with upholding that lesson behave in ways which go completely against it?”
Mr Munroe said the Ministry of National Security and Ministry of Finance are negotiating over a public private partnership tender for the construction of a new 700-bed high medium security prison.
He said officials hope to select a bidder by the end of the year or early next year, with construction projected to end 18 to 24 months after beginning.
The facility will use renewable energy.
“As the prime minister said, the prison has the conditions that the officers work in as well as where prisoners are housed. It has been used as the basis for having sentences reduced, having findings that go contrary to keeping people in the prison,” Mr Munroe said.
The new prison, he added, “will be steel fabricated so there will be no place to dig and hide contraband, no place to hide phones.”
“It‘ll be more controlled, it will be modern so you can have it surveilled by cameras and to cut down on contraband and the ability of people to communicate with the outside uncontrolled.
“As you know there are phones in prison so if you want to use the phone just so it’s monitored. That’s the way it is in all institutions.”