The prison service in St. Vincent and the Grenadines is short of some 10 staff members.
Superintendent of Prisons Brenton Charles confirmed this to iWitness News on Thursday, three days after an accused murderer escaped from Her Majesty’s Prisons in Kingstown and later turned himself back in.
Asked if he had adequate staff to man the prison, Charles said: “At this point in time, we are a few persons short. To say we don’t have adequate persons might not be fair and just and to say we have what we want will not be correct either. We have a few positions…”
He said that the “few persons” was nine or 10 persons.
Her Majesty’s Prisons in Kingstown — one of the nation’s two correctional facilities — had a population of 229 people as at Thursday morning, the prison chief said.
The prison houses mostly remand prisoners but some persons who are doing time are also housed there.
Charles’ comments come one week after a prison officer, speaking to iWitness News on condition of anonymity, said there was a chronic shortage of officers at the Kingstown prison.
The officer said the situation was such that sometimes four or five officers work the evening and night shifts (3 p.m. to 11 p.m. and 11 p.m. to 7 a.m.), especially on weekends.
The officers further told iWitness News that prisoners were helping prison officers to open cells at meal and exercise time.
Earlier this month, an ex-prisoner also made similar comments on Hot FM.
In June 2017, Elroy Boucher, head of the Public Service Union, the trade union that represents prison wardens, told the media that 14 positions at the prisons were vacant after more than a year and the situation was leading to burnout among correctional officers.
On Wednesday, Veron Primus, 32, who was being held on remand as he awaits trial for murder, was jailed for 16 months for escaping from HMP sometime between Monday and Tuesday.
Primus is charged with the November 2015 murder of 33-year-old real estate agent Sharleee Greaves.