POLICE at the scene of the homicide at the Rubis gas station on Mackey Street.
By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Senior Reporter
TIMOTHY Saunders, the convict killed at a gas station on Monday, was approved for the Bahamas Department of Corrections’ work scheme under the Minnis administration, National Security Minister Wayne Monroe said yesterday.
Mr Munroe said Saunders was near the end of his 18-year prison sentence, having been set for release in 2024 following a manslaughter conviction.
Mr Munroe said Saunders was approved for the work scheme on September 13, 2021, and began the work in February. He was killed on Monday at a Rubis gas station at Mackey Street and Madeira Streets.
Mr Munroe’s comments came after his predecessor, Marvin Dames, told The Nassau Guardian the incident must be examined to determine why Saunders was even selected for the programme.
“We ought not to play politics with this. If (Mr Dames) didn’t think people charged with homicide should be on the scheme then he shouldn’t have approved any,” Mr Munroe said.
On the advice of Police Commissioner Clayton Fernander, the prison has suspended the work scheme “for security checks and rationalisation” for people who have been convicted of murder or manslaughter, Mr Munroe said.
He said there were 17 people on the programme, 11 of whom were serving sentences for murder or manslaughter. All were approved under the previous administration.
“Others who aren’t convicted of these things we saw no reason for them not to continue in the programme but based on what happened I’ve had the conversation with the commissioner of police and the commissioner of the prison and it was decided to take this action,” Mr Munroe said.
“I don’t take any issue with these persons being approved for the work scheme because it’s supposed to be independently administrated. You must look at persons’ response, how close they are to release, whether they have been rehabilitated, how likely they are to commit a crime. The thinking is that with such little time left on their sentence, they are unlikely to break the rules and we need to get them ready to go back into society and so we don’t want to release them broke.
“The inmate on the scheme wasn’t the security issue, the person who shot and killed him was the security problem. Now if we said the inmate on the scheme had done something, then that would be a different story.
“If the argument is that having him outside the prison after being convicted of this offence, having served time makes him more vulnerable to an attack like this, then what do you make of the fact that he would be released in a short period of time? That fact won’t change, that problem won’t change. The problem is with the person involved with his murder. If that person has a bad mind, he’s either going to act in a year or in two years time.”
Mr Munroe said nothing related to the work scheme has come for his approval so far in his tenure.