Thursday 14 December, 2017

Prison head laments slow treatment of corrupt officers

Murdered Prison Officer Richard Sandy

Murdered Prison Officer Richard Sandy

Prisons Commissioner William Alexander has slammed critics who label the service “corrupt”.

He made the comment in response to criticism from members of the public, as Prison Officers Association President Ceron Richards championed calls for legislation to be implemented to allow prison officers to carry concealed weapons for their safety, after the shooting death of Prisons Officer I, Richard Sandy.

In a statement issued on Thursday, Alexander said the death of Officer Sandy has sparked “heavy and unjust criticism” from certain members of the public.

“Whilst we were mourning the sixteenth work-related death since 2001, of yet another colleague, who was known to be a solid, humble and fearless officer, as well as a caring and supportive father, and trying to come to terms with his death, the Prison Service was condemned and labeled as corrupt. This condemnation is deemed as unprofessional, insensitive and disrespectful. It was uttered without thought or concern of its interpretation by the general public, especially for Officer Sandy,” he said.

The Prisons Commissioner admitted that there are indeed rogue elements within the Prison Service; however, he insisted that those persons were in the minority. He said this is evident as the number of people found guilty of engaging in corrupt activity is small.

Alexander said the Prisons Service is committed to weeding out unlawful elements as he blamed the justice system for failing to address the problem.

“There is a process by which officers caught engaging in corrupt practices are treated, but it is a lengthy one, made quite difficult by the Justice System. The conviction rate is minute for various reasons and matters are stalled for years and eventually some are dismissed. Relative to the corrupt officers active in the Prison Service, who undo the good and lawful practices of their brother officers and bring shame, disrepute and untold risks unto the Prison Service, please be assured that the Prisons Administration is working assiduously to detect and apprehend same.”

The Prisons Commissioner said the Prisons Service, as an arm of the Criminal Justice System, is committed to the protection of society and crime prevention.

He said as an imperfect establishment in an imperfect society, the criticisms come from “an unknowing public” as officers continue to face challenges and struggle bravely to uphold the oath they have undertaken to protect society.

Alexander urged Prison Officers to remain focused on the task at hand and not be dismayed by the negative criticism.

"I am appealing to you that you should not let criticism by the uninformed hinder you from performing your duties. Most of our work is performed behind the walls of the prison. Let us remember that the general public has little knowledge of what we do. Despite all our publicized efforts at positive portrayals, our shortcomings will always be highly emphasized. The real reward for the incomparable, herculean tasks that you so unselfishly perform each day, so as to transform the criminal nature of our charges will be appropriately acknowledged by the Divine Master."

"Rest assured that I, as Commissioner of Prisons, will always defend those committed, honest, hard-working and God-fearing Prisons Officers, who, despite tremendous risks and several societal ills, persevere in their work which redounds to public stability and safety."

Richard Sandy was the latest prison officer to be killed by criminal elements.

He was shot by an ex-convict on Saturday while liming at a bar Gasparillo.  He died at the San Fernando General Hospital on Sunday morning as a result of excessive blood loss. PO Sandy was buried on Wednesday.