CONTENDING that the health of the prison service is at risk, criminal defence attorney Fareed Ali is calling for the appointment of an Inspector of Prisons.
In the aftermath of the killing of two prison officers and a declaration that 13 are marked for death, Ali said the appointment of an Inspector of Prisons may help prevent violence towards prison personnel.
“The fact there is no Inspector of Prisons since 2019 speaks volumes as to where our priorities lie pursuant to the plight of prisoners and the conditions that exist at the prisons.”
He said the role of the inspector in the midst of a pandemic cannot be overstated or underscored.
“The Prison Inspector function serves to ensure that the needs of the prisoners are serviced and the condition of their stay is progressively examined.”
The fact that there is no Prison Inspector ought to be a concern to all stakeholders.
He also submitted, “The prison authority needs to be held accountable for what happens in its prisons, likewise those that have to date failed to appoint an inspector of prisons.”
Ali questioned if there is a relationship between the killing of prison officers and their conduct towards inmates.
“I am not inciting speculation that there is any direct relationship between murder of prison officers and how officers conduct their duty, but if that may be so then looking after the concerns of inmates and the latter feeling valued by our parliamentary processes and parliamentary dialogue goes a long way in providing protection to inmates and officers.
“If the root cause of acts of violence towards prison personnel is properly explored, one may be able to avoid a reoccurrence of violence if there is a relationship between murder and performance of duty.”
He said if that exercise isn’t executed in a forensic assessment of causes of the murder of prison officers, then it’s easy to presume in the discussion that their killing is random.
“Unless that analysis is completed, prison officers may be denied a layer of protection needed whilst off duty.
“If their murder has its origins in how they execute their function, then their conduct ought to be examined for better or worse.”