Attorneys assess options to close new Tobago prison

Glen Road residents protest outside the Tobago Correctional Facility in Scarborough last Friday. Residents say there was no consultation before the decision was made to place a prison there. PHOTO BY AYANNA KINSALE -
Glen Road residents protest outside the Tobago Correctional Facility in Scarborough last Friday. Residents say there was no consultation before the decision was made to place a prison there. PHOTO BY AYANNA KINSALE -

Residents of Glen Road in Scarborough are considering their legal options after a government decision to open the Tobago Correctional Facility in their area. But they remain open to discussions with the authorities over their concerns.

Last Friday, they staged a protest at the site threatening legal action if the authorities do not reverse the decision.

On Monday, a representative group met in videoconference with attorneys Janelle Ramsaroop and Martin George.

In a video media release afterwards, Ramsaroop said residents voiced their concerns and the basis for their dissatisfaction, along with their fears and insecurities going forward.

She said issues were also raised as to the lack of consultation with residents, the disrespect and disregard for their concerns and feelings and what they described as a lack of a thorough search for proper alternative sites in Tobago.

She said they were told what other documents and information they would need to gather for a review of their possible legal options.

'We are going to assess whether there is any legal basis whereby these residents can challenge the existence of that prison in Glen Road, Scarborough, Tobago," Ramsaroop said.

In the interim, Ramsaroop said the lawyers would talk further with their clients and were willing to meet National Security Minister Stuart Young, Commissioner of Prisons Dennis Pulchan and THA Chief Secretary Ancil Dennis in a bid to resolve the matter amicably.

Last Friday, residents rejected Dennis’s apology to them for the lack of consultation on the issue.

Dennis responded to the issue at Wednesday’s post-executive council media conference.

During a tour of the correctional facility on November 6, Pulchan said it will house inmates from the existing Scarborough prison, while the latter is to be used as a quarantine facility. Pulchan said the facility will not house hardened criminals but those who have committed “low-level crimes.” He also claimed residents had responded positively to the move.

One resident, Mark Renwick, told reporters he had spoken to the area’s THA representative Marslyn Melville-Jack about the prison, but she claimed she did not know anything about it.

Renwick said Melville-Jack also told him the Chief Secretary would not have known about the prison because it is not under his purview.

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