PoS prison needs bleach, soap to fight covid19, chickenpox

Port of Spain prison on Frederick Street, Port of Spain. - Photo by Sureash Cholai
Port of Spain prison on Frederick Street, Port of Spain. - Photo by Sureash Cholai

Activist and Newsday columnist Debbie Jacob is asking the public to donate sanitation items to curb any risk of chickenpox or covid19 in Port of Spain Prison, she told Newsday.

Jacob is seeking donations of bleach, hand sanitiser, soap bars and laundry soap.

Commissioner of Prisons Dennis Pulchan on Tuesday told Newsday Jacob was well known for her philanthropic efforts for inmates and he welcomed her latest initiative, done through her Wishing For Wings Foundation.

Pulchan said, “Ms Jacob is a friend of the prison and has always sought donations from elsewhere for the inmates. She’s helped on many occasions, such as getting masks. It’s something she does in a philanthropic way. We appreciate it.”

Jacob said, “They need bleach for the constant cleaning and the misting machine. There is a desperate need for hand sanitiser, because they do not have running water in their cells. Also, we need things like hand soap and blue soap for washing clothes.”

Laundry soap and toilet paper are also needed, she added.

She explained. “We had covid there. We got it under control within a month. We’ve done it before. We know we can do it again.

“But this time we’re fighting covid and chicken pox at the same time.”

Newsday asked if the Government should be providing such supplies.

“I think this is impossible to plan for,” she said. “No matter what you get, it is not enough.

“There are ten prisons in TT with people who are in very confined conditions.

“I suppose you could use your whole budget allocation for doing nothing but fighting covid, so I try to help out. It’s not to say they don’t get and they don’t try but it’s just never enough.

“A place like Port of Spain Prison, you have to be constantly cleaning.

There’s no running water in the cells. You could imagine guys using the bathroom in the cells all day long.”

She said at times like this, everyone should try to buttress the fight against the spread of infectious disease. She hailed past donors such as activist Gary Aboud and the NGO Sewa.

Pulchan supported Jacob’s call for the donation of cleaning supplies, but said he would not accept donated clothing items owing to covid19 concerns.

Newsday asked about chickenpox and covid19 in the prison.

“Chickenpox has always been in the prison. We always have one or two cases. So we have a few cases, but it is not an outbreak, but is managed by the prison doctor. It is not an outbreak, but is rising from time to time.

“The covid situation, more or less, is kind of mellowing down in the prisons. I have 3,600 inmates but only have 22 inmates who are covid-positive – not a bad number.”

On vaccination uptake in the prisons. he said, “We can’t force anybody to take vaccines, but so far we have about 25 per cent of officers vaccinated and about 20 per cent on inmates are vaccinated. We give them all the facilities to get vaccinated. It’s a matter of choice.”

Pulchan said he was “very thankful for corporate TT for supporting the prison service,” adding, “I want to commend my officers for standing up and delivering in a crisis mode.”

Anyone wishing to donate items can contact Jacob at debbiejunejacob@gmail.com


"PoS prison needs bleach, soap to fight covid19, chickenpox"

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