A 24 lockdown remains intact at Her Majesty’s Prison as concerns about the safety of inmates and prison officers continue.
Some agitated and aggressive prisoners continue to make threats, prompting authorities to take drastic measures over the past few days. Prisoners have also threatened to burn down the facility.
It all started last week Friday morning when prisoners registered their concerns about the quality of food provided, saying it was unhealthy.
Superintendent of Prison Jermaine Anthony told State Media that out of concerns for safety and security, authorities had no choice but to declare a State of Emergency and lock down the facility.
A 24 lockdown is where residents are secured in their cells and the day-to-day movement for recreational activities is restricted out of concern for the safety and security of the institution.
Additionally, inmates are no longer allowed to leave their units to collect their meals at the catering facilities. These meals are now being delivered directly to them under the lockdown.
“We had to bring in the police riot squad because they have been making threats of reprisals and continuance of their disturbance in the prison. We will continue to 24-hour lockdown until we are satisfied there are no longer threats to the institution,” Anthony said.
Meanwhile, Attorney General Steadroy Benjamin is not convinced that the current protest by prisoners at Her Majesty’s Prison is authentic.
“I am of the firm opinion that the agitation may not necessarily be genuine but otherwise orchestrated by others trying to prove a point,” Benjamin in an interview with a radio station in St Johns.
Benjamin said also that the food is of a good standard, irrespective of the inmate’s claims that they are unhealthy and not good for consumption.
“We have provided meals for the prisoners by the chefs at the National School Meals Programme, so we make certain that the diet is what is acceptable. There have been some challenges in terms of health issues, but the government is addressing those circumstances,” he said.
Adding “some complaints are justified; I have expressed my concerns about that. We are going to have a complete revamping of the prison administration,”.
He said the government will also look into buying equipment that prevents prisoners from communicating with the public using their mobile phoned.
The use of cell phones in prison and other contraband has been a long vexing issue for authorities. Just recently hundreds of illegal items were found at the prison during a raid.
Back in 2007, a judge ruled that the conditions at the prison do not amount to inhuman and degrading treatment.