NAPARIMA MP Rodney Charles' interest in the Prison Service and what happens inside the country's prisons, prompted National Security Minister Stuart Young to extend an offer to him.
"Would you like to be a prison officer?" Young asked Charles during a meeting of the Standing Finance Committee of the House of Representatives on Friday. He observed that while the full complement of the service is supposed to be 4,218 officers, there are only 3,022 officers in the service.
Young also said the total number of people in batch of prison officer recruits for the service is 150. He explained this makes it difficult for the service to fill its gaps.
"Whilst you're passing out batches, there is just not sufficient persons coming forward to be prison officers," he said. Young added the reasons for this are obvious.
On he use of closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras, Young said he hoped there would come a time when every inch of the prisons would have CCTV coverage.
And on closing the Carrera Island prison, which the former PP government had considered, Young said the PNM has no such plans and is looking to upgrade the facilities instead. He rejected Opposition claims that the Tobago prison is "falling into the sea" because it is located on a cliff and reiterated Government's intention to improve the prison there. He seemed amused by Charles' question about the food being served to prisoners.
Opposition MPs quarrelled when Young offered to show Charles the inside of a prison, and told them he was offering a guided tour. He disclosed that the ministry has done its work with respect to the implementation of an electronic monitoring system for prisoners who are on parole. He added it was up to the Judiciary to complete its work on this initiative. "We are ready to go," he said.
Young also said any reports of health concerns in the prisons will be investigated.