Speculation is rife that the new Commissioner of Prisons will have a task on his hand.
Sources within the prison told THE NEW TODAY newspaper corruption is rampant within the walls of Her Majesty’s Prison and involves both inmates and prison officers.
Former Revolutionary soldier, Ashley “Ram” Folkes is due to step down from the job on December 31.
An inmate contacted this newspaper to complain that what is supposed to be a place of reform for offenders is nothing but “a torture house” for many prisoners.
He said that the major problem at the prison is not cell phones getting into the hands of inmates but rather “brutalisation and stealing of prisoners stuff”.
“This (Richmond Hill prison) is Her Majesty’s Supermarket”, he quipped.
According to the inmate, who has been speaking confidentially with this newspaper, the prison should be used as a place to give lawbreakers a chance to re-enter society as brand new individuals with a different state of mind than when they went in.
However, he expressed fears that reform cannot be present within the institution as some prisoners are given leeway by prison officers to engage in all sort of illegal activities.
He alleged that some prison officers steal from prisoners and even ask prisoners to steal for them.
According to the source, the current Commissioner is not always seen on the prison compound and often time leaves the operations of the institution in the hands of an “Indian Chief”.
The inmate described the apparent second in command as a believer in “old school correction” and one who likes to “make his own rules”.
He feared that there could be unrest within the prison walls if the “Indian Chief” is put at the helm and wants the authorities to remove him when Folkes’ tenure expires.
“PM (Dr. Keith Mitchell) don’t be fooled, while you are getting rid of Folkes …take the Indian Chief too because you might see prisoners running outside…they are keeping it secret from PM,” he said.
The inmate alleged that a lot of abuse is taking place within the prison and being covered up by prison officers.
He re-iterated allegations made in another media entity that one inmate was paid to poison another with marijuana.
“They locked up the person who was almost poisoned instead of the one who wanted to commit the act and officials in the prison said there is no truth in the matter,” he said.
The source made specific mention of an incident that occurred July 9 at the prison involving a mentally ill inmate who was acting up because he was not given his medication.
“He (the inmate) stabbed an officer with a pencil – nothing bad really happened to the officer as the pencil broke. It (the situation) was taken under control by officials within the prison.
Later on, four junior officers together with the one that was stabbed opened his cell and with a pipe iron reign down blows on the inmate.
He (mentally challenged prisoner) was left with a broken foot…”, he said.
According to the inmate, a prisoner officer whom he named discovered the injured inmate around 9.30 p.m. and rushed him to the hospital for treatment.
“He (the inmate) spent two weeks in hospital – it was kept under wraps and no investigation was made,” he said.
Another incident that was brought to the attention of this newspaper was the keys for any cells and other doors within the prison falling into the wrong hands.
The inmate said the prison authorities were forced into doing “damage control” as the locks of the institution had to be changed “as the keys got into the hands of an inmate who made duplicates”.
He added that this is not the first time something like that had happened at the Richmond Hill institution.
The source said the notorious Sheldon “Dutch” Bain was blamed as the culprit but the person behind this is really an inmate from the sister isle of Carriacou.
“Last July they had to change the keys, he (the one from Carriacou) had copies of the keys. He used the keys, came out to pick up 15 parcels of marijuana. He waved to officers in the tower – officers cover for each other.
The source is making a plea to government officials to engage and talk with prisoners whenever they make visits in order to get a true reflection of what is taking place inside the walls of Her Majesty’s Prison as those running the institution keep secret the real issues.