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Key search

by Donna Sealy

prisonbarbadosDodds Prison is on amber alert.

Barbados TODAY was told this heightened state of security was implemented at the St. Philip penal institution after a set of keys to an area of the Maximum Security block, which comprises 96 cells, went missing.

An investigation into the situation was launched by those in charge and some warders, particularly the temporary ones, were said to be extremely concerned about the attention allegedly being focussed on them.

Sources close to the prison said that the situation was very tense and the warders had been told that “heads will roll” until the keys were found.

Several of them have been questioned.

Today, however, a security source said one of the explanations offered to management was that an officer accidentally dropped the ring of three keys down a toilet. These keys, it was reported, were designed to open “one side of the block” — amounting to 48 cells.

The source noted though that in the ultra-modern prison there were redundant security measures, and the keys could only be used to unlock the cell doors after the electronic locks had been deactivated — a duty that can only be undertaken by designated prison personnel.

“Each morning,” the person familiar with prison operations said, “the electronic locks are switched off and this allows officers to use the keys to open the cell doors or the flaps (a smaller door through which food is served to inmates).”

As a result of the security concerns occasioned by the disappearance of the keys, prison management has instituted the amber alert, which essentially restricts the movement of inmates, although, the source revealed, those attending classes such as anger management as well as prisoners on work detail are still permitted movement as necessary.

Meanwhile, sources within the prison charged there was renewed dissatisfaction with a decision of prison management to meet with prisons who complain of being “unfaired” by warders, while complaints of staff remain to be attended.

While repeated efforts to contact Acting Superintendent of Prisons John Nurse were unsuccessful, Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite declined to “comment on something I do not know about”.

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