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Tuesday 21 May 2019
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Prisons Commissioner:Overcrowded cells a factor in escape

Prisons Commissioner Gerard Wilson
Prisons Commissioner Gerard Wilson

PRISONS Commissioner Gerard Wilson lamented yesterday’s escape in which eight inmates crawled through a hole in the wall to freedom, saying overcrowded cells and insufficient manpower were among the factors which led to the breach in security.

He told Newsday he visited the cell where the escape occurred and believed it was months in the planning.

He said based on preliminary investigations, the men appeared to have cut the bars on the window using a hacksaw blade and removed a brick from the wall to crawl through.

“They cut two bars and removed one of the fancy bricks on the top left hand corner of the cell.

“It was a pretty small hole and sometimes inmates start fasting to get smaller to be able to crawl through the holes, and if you don’t recognise the signs then you get lost. They planned this in advance.”

Asked how the inmates got off the compound once outside their cell, Wilson said the remand facility where the men were kept was minimum security and said overcrowding at the maximum security prison led to some inmates being placed at the remand section.

“It’s not like the maximum security prison with tall, smooth walls.

“Because of overcrowding, we can’t keep all the people charged for murder in that section, hence the reason why some people who shouldn’t even be on this (remand) section are on this side.

“When you have eight men in a cell, it makes it much easier for them to try and escape because they have more help. Ideally there are only supposed to be three men per cell.”

Asked whether prison officers on duty at the time were questioned by police, Wilson said a preliminary report consisting of officers’ statements was taken.

“Based on our report, we will know where to go from there but there is no reason to call the police unless there is some criminal intent or anything like that.”

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