Prison crackdown

Five correctional officers arrested, three inmates being prosecuted

Monday, March 20, 2017





Five correctional officers have been arrested and three inmates are being prosecuted as the Government implements increased security measures in the nation’s prisons over recent weeks.


According to the Ministry of National Security, in a series of probes which continued over the past weekend, investigators working in tandem with the leadership of the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) have seized 36 mobile phones at the Tower Street Adult Correctional Centre, and an additional four mobile phones at the Tamarind Farm facility.


"Several other digital devices, including SIM cards and an iPad, were also seized during the crackdown," the ministry stated in a news release yesterday.


"Four correctional officers have been charged in connection with these finds in an ongoing probe led by the Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Agency (MOCA). A fifth correctional officer was arrested on the weekend, and three inmates, who were charged for various offences, are being prosecuted while in custody," the ministry added.


"We are creating an enabling environment that supports greater levels of professionalism in the DCS. The door remains open for anyone with information on illegal activities in the correctional institutions to tell what they know," the release quotes minister of state, Senator Pearnel Charles Jr, who has portfolio responsibility for the correctional system.


He advised people with information to call the MOCA toll-free line 1-800-CORRUPT and pointed out that their call will be treated with the utmost confidence.


"The ministry’s objective is clear. We will root out any person conducting criminal activities in our correctional facilities. Our targets are criminals, be they inmates or individuals who may be wearing the uniform of a correctional officer," said Charles.


"I have met again with the Special Security Unit assembled to reduce and eliminate these security risks in our correctional system. In the national security interest, we will continue to review and fine-tune our plans in a multifaceted approach to the systemic challenges we face," he said.


The ministry recalled that on February 28, Charles announced several sweeping measures to strengthen the internal controls in all correctional institutions and to deter corruption and the conduct of criminal activity within the prisons.


Among the key security measures being implemented are:


• Amendments to existing legislation, regulations and procedures to increase accountability and enforcement;


• The installation of X-ray scanning machines at Tower Street and St Catherine adult correctional centres and Horizon Adult Remand Centre;


• Metal detectors and new entry management protocols;


• Polygraphing of all recruits and correctional officers;


• Relocation of inmates and re-zoning of spaces in all institutions;


• Expanded CCTV coverage across the correctional system; and


• Enhanced use of cellular phone jamming technology.


• The Department of Correctional Services manages nearly 4,000 inmates in seven adult correctional centres, one remand centre, and four juvenile facilities.

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