TRINIDAD – Prison officers warn of shutdown if issues not dealt with
PORT OF SPAIN –– Prison officers in Trinidad and Tobago say their security concerns have gone unresolved for too long, and have warned that unless steps are taking to address their problems, the prison service “will shut down”.
President of the Prison Officers Association, Ceron Richards, issued the warning yesterday, two days after a senior prison official was killed. Superintendent of Prisons David Millette was killed on Monday morning as he sat in his car outside his home. Two people are in police custody being questioned for that murder.
Speaking to the media yesterday, Richards said the Prison Service “is fast approaching critical mass” and everybody in the system was frustrated.
“We cannot go on as we are going on now. Nobody in Trinidad is . . . lacking in knowledge as to what is happening in the Prison Service; what is missing is political will to treat with the issues,” he said.
Richards further told the Newsday newspaper that the association was demanding that officers be armed; those living in high-risk areas be relocated to Housing Development Corporation homes where they will be more secure; and that a new policy for the allocation of prison officers be developed and approved by cabinet, and legislation to ensure the protection of officers taken to Parliament within one month.
He said there would be “serious implications for the prison system”.
“The jail will shut down!” he warned.
Minister of National Security Edmund Dillon, who met with the Prison Service’s executive yesterday, said consideration was being given to providing prison officers with firearms and providing security for them outside of work, but he did not say when a decision would be made.
“I will not commit myself to a time frame . . . It is being considered as part of a number of measures that have been part of the discussion this morning,” he said at a Press conference.
“I have taken on board some recommendations from the prisons commissioner which will be discussed and further developed as we go ahead . . . . I prefer not to disclose those recommendations, but I can assure that they would be favourably considered, based on justification, on resources and the ability so to do,” the minister added.