The Grenada Trades Union Council (TUC) has expressed its reservation over the appointment of former Lieutenant in the defunct People’s Revolutionary Army (PRA), Ashley “Ram” Folkes as the Commissioner of Prisons.
Last week during a post-Cabinet press briefing, Minister of Legal Affairs, Elvin Nimrod confirmed that Folkes has been appointed in an acting capacity as the Prisons Commissioner, replacing Don McKenzie who was on secondment from the Royal Grenada Police Force (RGPF).
According to Nimrod, Folkes’ appointment, which is temporary, is to seek to bring law and order to the lone correctional facility on the island.
He spoke of the Minister of National Security, Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell having been confronted with a series of problems at the prisons including illegal drugs and weapons upon assuming Office two months ago.
“The situation has been very explosive, and the Minister of National Security … had to move swiftly to try to abate the problem, and this is why, of course, he has appointed Mr. Ashley Folkes on a temporary basis to serve as Commissioner at Her Majesty’s Prisons,” he said.
Government insiders have told this newspaper that Folkes is being looked upon as a strong disciplinarian and someone who might be able “to deal with the situation at the prison”.
However, Labour Representative in the Upper House of Parliament, Senator Raymond Roberts has taken issue with the appointment of Folkes, a former national footballer and cricketer.
He said that Prime Minister Mitchell cannot be taken seriously when he speaks about “cutting the fat in the public service.”
Sen. Roberts claimed that the new Prison Commissioner is over 65 years of age, has never been a Boys Scouts in the last 34 years, or exposed to any security force in recent years.
He said he fails to see what expertise Folkes will be bringing to Her Majesty’s Prisons at Richmond Hill to deal with the problems confronting the institution.
“I think… that is again unwanted fat. If we’re talking about fat, immediately chop that fat. That fat is useless,” he added.
Sen. Roberts told the House that over the years, hundreds of Police Officers have been trained and that they have been exposed to all the modern-day techniques in crime and technology and are more suited to handle the prison.
“To bring back a 65-year old is not suitable. That can’t make sense,” he said.
Last week, 17 wrapped portions of marijuana and ten cellular phones were recovered from the remand block at the prison.