The mother of a prisoner who tested positive for covid19 is pleading with the Ministry of Health and prison authorities to intervene to help save the life of her youngest son.
Lisa Drayton of Lowkie Trace, Penal, said her son Aron Alleyne, 32, is incarcerated in inhumane conditions in an isolated area of the remand yard of the Golden Grove Prison in Arouca.
Alleyne, who is on a murder charge, has been in jail for the last nine years awaiting a hearing at the San Fernando High Court.
Now his mother fears because of a lack of medical attention and proper care her son may die in the cell where he is being kept with 12 other prisoners who also have covid19.
A video that has now gone viral on social media shows Alleyne and other prisoners in a crowded cell complaining about the conditions in which they are being housed.
Alleyne and other inmates were separated from the rest of the prison population after testing positive for the virus.
Drayton said a welfare officer from the prison had told her on Tuesday that her son had tested positive and was receiving the best of medical care at the prison in an isolated area.
“My heart broke. I was so shocked to know that my son now had covid19.
"But I felt comforted, as I was assured by the welfare officer that he and others were receiving the best medical care at the prison... then to see a video circulating with my son and other prisoners in one tiny cell being treated less than animals.”
Drayton said the video shows faeces stains on the walls and a lack of water.
“The area (where) they placed them, it may have been condemned, judging from the faeces stains on the walls.
"My son is saying in the video that they are hardly getting meals and if they do the meals are not on time. They have to eat with worms and flies, as the toilet bowls cannot be flushed.
" The conditions are the most inhume thing I have ever seen. Just watching it I felt to vomit.”
Drayton said from the way her son and other inmates are being treated, she believes the prison authorities are waiting for them to die to get rid of them.
“Not because he is in jail his life does not matter. This is my son. He is innocent until proven guilty.
"As a mother, how would you feel knowing that was your son was going through this? I don’t want to get a phone call or a visit from someone from the prison telling me, ‘Ma’am, I am sorry, your son has died.'
"My son and those other prisoners with him all deserve a fair trial and chance at life.”
Drayton said the National Security and prison authorities must come together and find suitable accommodation for her son and the other sick prisoners.
"Move them to a place where they are guarded properly, I understand – but a place where they can receive proper medical care and attention. And based on what I have seen they have to act fast, or these prisoners will die, and this will be due to a lack of proper care.”
On March 17, prisoners at the Golden Grove Prison in Arouca protested over fears that the virus could enter the already poorly sanitised and overpopulated prison. Prisoners livestreamed the riot on Facebook.
In a phone interview on Thursday, acting Prisons Commissioner Dennis Pulchan told Newsday the Prison Service treats all inmates equally, was managing a covid19 rise in the prisons and had made arrangements for covid19 patients.
He said they are also faced with an overcrowding issue and are managing it as best they can.
The latest report on cases from the Health Ministry on November 14 showed that out of 97 new covid19 cases, 46 came from a cluster within the prison system. To date, it is uncertain how many were from the remand yard prison and how many other prisoners tested positive for covid19.
Last week a release from the prison service said 68 prisoners at the Maximum Security Prison (MSP) in Arouca had tested positive for the virus.
The Caribbean Centre for Human Rights (CCHR) responded by renewing its call for for the government to deal with a potential upsurge in covid19 cases in prison, pointing out, "The overcrowding in the prisons and the inhumane conditions are ideal conditions for a widespread outbreak of covid19. Remand remains a space that is particularly worrying given reports of up to eight persons being held in one cell."
National Security Minister Stuart Young said in an earlier interview that the prison system had built out a parallel system for inmates who test positive and those who may be primary contacts of patients.