Three screenshots from one of the videos.

Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves has asked the authorities for a report on possession of prohibited items by inmates after two videos surfaced on social media recently showing inmates smoking what appears to be marijuana and using mobile devices in a cell at Belle Isle Correctional Facility.

“I haven’t gotten the results, but I, personally, called the Commissioner [of Police] and I, personally, called the Superintendent of Prisons, tell them that I would like to get the report,” Gonsalves, who is also Minister of National Security told a press conference on Monday.

“Now, the prisoners were breaking the prison rules. And it’s difficult for me, as a normal, sentient being, normal person, brethren, with senses that you could have prisoners inside of the prisons with cell phones and some prison officers are not colluding,” the prime minister said.

He said that that is part of the investigation, “because if there are, indeed, prison officers, they’re breaking the regulations, too; they’re breaking the law”.

The prime minister said this is a matter which the Public Service Commission, from a disciplinary standpoint, would be expected to deal with. 

“I stay in my crease. I don’t deal with the discipline of public servants. I’m the chief executive, I could call the superintendent of prisons, I say, ‘This is a serious matter. You have to investigate this matter’, a similar thing with the Commissioner of Police.”

The prime minister, however, said that while he could get information from the commissioner and superintendent, “what information I get, I may or may not tell you or tell you all of it.

“Because if the names of somebody… — let’s say John Browne’s name is mentioned as a prison warder, who give Ephraim Burke, a cell phone, I can’t tell you that.”

The prime minister, who is also a lawyer and Minister of Legal Affairs, said such information would be “evidence which would be brought either to a criminal court or to an internal disciplinary matter leading right up… in the case of the prison officer to the Public Service Commission.

“So I can’t muddy the water, I can’t pollute the streams of justice, either internally or in the courts by giving you that kind of information,” he said.

Gonsalves said that after receiving and reviewing a report he could then say that  ‘Yes, I’ve read the report and it would appear to me that certain actions would be taken by the relevant authorities in dealing with this matter. But that relevant authority isn’t me because I don’t prosecute,” he said.

He said his role is to go to Parliament and provide the resources to strengthen the prosecuting arm of the state.

Gonsalves said his administration has done so by increasing the staff complement at the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution from three to more than 20.

“So all I could say to you, what I have done, but I have requested and I expect the Superintendent of Prisons and the Commission will send me the relevant reports but they will also know duty in sending those reports to the authorities who will act on them in the requisite manner,” the prime minister further stated.

5 replies on “PM demands report into drugs, phones in prison”

  1. I worked for a few years in a prison in the USA and it is much different than here. No electronic devices are allowed in any prison in the state where I worked. It is true that many US prisons are like luxury hotels, with cooked meals, exercise rooms, libraries and lots of free training, education and services, but much of that is unavailable in SVG. One main fact to remember is that people are generally in prison as a punishment but they are not in prison to be punished. Society has to constantly determine what prison life should be like for those incarcerated and at the same time consider security and cost to the public. In France I hear the conditions are so bad that many die. In Sweden prisoners have thier own room, shower and live in more luxury than many of the best hotels.
    If the prisons are not the way the officials intend it to be, as well as the police, then the officials need to be more involved.
    As a former law-enforcement officer I believe most of the police do a great job and conduct themselves properly. Obviously some of them are no better than the criminals in prison. From my observation the police need to police themselves and make some policy changes. They can start by stopping the well-accepted practice of beating people in custody. The Prime Minister seems to think these beatings are OK because after so many INNOCENT people have complained, nothing has been done to stop the behavior. I have noticed that the more brutal the officer is, the more likely they are to be promoted. Too many of these crooked-cops have risen high in the ranks and that is why we have this problem in the police force today. I highly commend those officers that have not succumbed to this cowardly, shameful and damaging behavior!
    Our law-enforcement in SVG can be SO GREAT, but those at the top in the force and in government need to straighten-up and make that part of the Executive Branch something to be admired. THE PROBLEM LIES AT THE TOP not with (most) of the officers! Maybe policy enforcement in our prisons is too lax? Maybe an entire new SOP needs to be crafted. I do not work there, I cannot say.

  2. Urlan Alexander says:

    You don’t meddle you say Ralph? You really think Vincentian’s are a bunch of sheep eh. Anyway the prisoners only following the norm. As PM you have broke the law on many occasions and always coming up with an excuse. The illegal loans through overdrafts and special warrants are recent examples of breaking the finance act by you and the minister of finance. How should the people discipline you? You really look down on Vincentian’s as a bunch of dondo heads.

  3. U simple can’t govern everything..it happening right under the superintendent nose..an will still continue to happen

  4. There are two sides to every coin. I was a Police Officer for 7 years and I’m now a civilian. A few touch up or soften up helped solve many crimes. Imagine questioning a suspect about a crime only to hear him / her say ” I don’t know anything about that”. All the leads got to a halt and the investigation done / case unsolved. Police would still be criticized for not being able to solve crimes. On the other hand quite a few suspects received a few soften ups and we recovered thousands of dollars worth of stolen goods and other evidence to bring someone to justice. Criticizing the Police depends on how you the world is going these days. Police act, you criticize. Police don’t act, you still criticize. Police act slow, you still criticize. Police act too fast and you still criticize. The folks who spend so much time criticizing Police, I wonder when last you assisted them to fight crime your way. If I had the power to give Police more power, I would. Too much ignorance in SVG, some ppl need some good Police beating.

  5. This looks like another pappy-show. Are we going to let Gonsalves get away with it? I hope not. In every area we see incompetence. What a mess. Gonsalves ask your Taiwanees friends for a kanban.

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