A YEAR-LONG delay by government in replacing a non-functioning alarm system at the Maximum Security Prison (MSP) in Golden Grove is being criticised by Prisons Officers Association (POA) president Ceron Richards.
More than a year ago, Richards and the prisons executive met with then Minister of National Security Edmund Dillon and told him the MSP alarm system, installed 15 years ago, had stopped working.
Dillon prepared a Cabinet note for the purchase of a new system, but up until last week Sunday, when he was transferred from that ministry to the Housing Ministry, no decision was made on replacing the system. The replacement will cost $4.5 million and sources said government has been unable to find funds to purchase a new alarm.
Contacted for comment, POA head Richards was unimpressed. “If it is funds that is causing that keep back, then it is an example of poor prioritisation because we are still paying a private company $8 million a month to transport prisoners yet we can’t find money for a one-time payment to effect a proper alarm system,” an incensed Richards said.
He added that it appeared government will only act after something “very serious happens at the MSP” owing to the lack of this basic yet critical security apparatus. His association is urging new National Security Minister Stuart Young to alert the Cabinet to this situation.
Richards vowed to write Young on this and many other issues affecting his association members. Acting Prisons Commissioner Dane Clarke confirmed the alarm system at MSP needs to be replaced. “A cabinet note has already been submitted in order for the process to take place,” Clarke said.
“The new minister is aware of the request,” he added. Clarke said the alarm is critical since it is one of the first means of alerting the entire prison system to a breach in security within a specific section of the MSP. There is a clear and present threat to the lives of prison officers by this non-functioning alarm system, a senior prison officer told Newsday.