Scheme to cut down on drugs at prison

THE MINISTRY of National Security launched an inmate visitation pilot programme yesterday, with Minister Wayne Munroe in attendance. Photo: Donavan McIntosh/Tribune Staff

THE MINISTRY of National Security launched an inmate visitation pilot programme yesterday, with Minister Wayne Munroe in attendance. Photo: Donavan McIntosh/Tribune Staff


Tribune Staff Reporter


THE Bahamas Department of Correctional Services yesterday launched a pilot electronic inmate visitation programme in a move officials say will crack down on contraband and drug smuggling at the prison, among other things.

The initiative, which allows inmates and visitors to meet online as opposed to face-to-face, was praised by National Security Minister Wayne Munroe and Acting Corrections Commissioner Doan Cleare.

According to Mr Munroe, the running of the pilot programme will cost the government “absolutely nothing”.

However, he revealed officials might consider hiring service providers to assist with the full roll-out of the system if the pilot proves to be successful.

Speaking on the programme’s benefits, Mr Cleare said one positive aspect of the system was its ability to crack down on the “vexing” problem of drug and contraband smuggled into the prison.

Mr Cleare said: “One good thing I’ll say about this system is that this will immediately eliminate contraband smuggling. Just yesterday, some visitors came to the prison, and we discovered that they had three cellphones in the sole of their shoes and almost like a quarter pound of marijuana just yesterday (Tuesday) and they were immediately arrested and they should be charged this (Wednesday) afternoon by DEU. So, this in itself will eliminate contraband smuggling from visitors so that’s why this system is so important and so timely.”

For his part, Mr Munroe called the initiative “long overdue”. In-person visitation at the prison was suspended in 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“For anyone who would have had to visit family in the prison would know the production you would have to go through in terms of having to be searched - which could be very invasive - and having to come into the prison compound,” the minister said.

“The inmate here, you heard her talk about her child having to come to the prison so to be visited by children involves bringing your children into the environment of the prison. This system will address much of that and in COVID, I understand there were no visits at all. The persons became concerned and so this will facilitate that and I will say it is very, very long overdue.”

He also said the government is currently in talks with various stakeholders, including the financial secretary, to find proper facilities that will serve as visit centres to facilitate the programme.

However, he said visitors who wish to utilise the online platform while at home will still be able to do so, but at a small price.

Mr Munroe said: “Initially, you would’ve heard us talk about the expense of the call and it is anticipated that once we designate government provided visit centres, they will be absolutely free, but if you wish the convenience to stay in your home not having to go to a government centre then there will be costs associated with that in relation, I understand, to systems that will be necessary to ensure security.

“To be clear, just as when I would’ve had to call clients in the US who are incarcerated and my call was subject to being recorded, the public should know that this will not be a free for all where you get to get secret information out of the prison and send it in. You will be monitored. They will disrupt your call and end it if you are not following the rules so with all that being said, I think this is a banner day for BDOCS,” he also said.

As for when the programme will be fully rolled out, Mr Munroe was unable to say yesterday. However, he said once all security concerns and other issues are addressed, the programme will be expanded.

“Until two commissioners are satisfied, the commissioner of BDOCS and the commissioner of police, once they tell me that they are satisfied with the pilot and the efficacy, then we can look about at expanding it but both of those commissioners will have to assure me that they are satisfied with the protocols,” he said.


xtreme2x 2 years, 5 months ago

sounds good. when that is closed history proves that another venu will begin...Next you will hire Robots to mann the inmates...lol

John 2 years, 5 months ago

When recreational marijuana becomes legal then maybe they will have a dispensary at Fox Hell Hold not only as a means of reward/punishment for inmates but as an additional source of funds for the prison system.

bahamianson 2 years, 5 months ago

Just fire all the prison guards and you will cut down on contraband entering.

Sickened 2 years, 5 months ago

They need to fill the prison with the strongest and most lethal contraband available and let every inmate overdose and die. An easy way to get rid of the human trash that fill our prison.

FormerPrisoner 2 years, 5 months ago

I would be happy to see my children every evening.

hrysippus 2 years, 5 months ago

People just going to smuggle virtual drugs into the prison using the internet.

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