BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS, MAY 2ND, 2017 (PRESS SEC) – Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris said in a statement last Sunday – on the occasion of Her Majesty’s Prison’s first-ever Awards and Appreciation Ceremony – that his administration has zero tolerance for contraband items in the prison system.
“At Her Majesty’s Prison, we take security very, very seriously,” the Superintendent of Prisons, Mr. Junie Hodge, told the Press Unit in the Office of the Prime Minister today, Tuesday, May 2nd, 2017.
“If we don’t have security and discipline at the institution, it would be poorly managed and run, the officers would be at greater risk and the residents who want to serve their time and be reintegrated back into society, they too would be at great risk. So we take zero tolerance toward contraband here at Basseterre HMP and zero tolerance at the HMP in Nevis [which houses approximately 23 residents deemed to be low risk and who have about two months or less time left on their sentences],” Superintendent Hodge added.
At Her Majesty’s Prison in Basseterre, 54 male and 19 female prison officers work in direct contact with the 211 inmates of whom 205 are males. The officers conduct inmate counts, cell searches and other security checks to control and prevent threats, thereby ensuring the safety of the prison residents and employees.
“Everybody who comes through the facility is subject to being searched. We normally ask the police to assist us [during random checks] with their K-9 unit, but the Office of the Superintendent has already indicated to the Ministry of National Security that we would like to have our own K-9 to search for contraband, such as weapons and cell phones. We have a good working relationship with the police, but having our own would be more efficient for us,” the Superintendent of Prisons said, further disclosing that, “The Government has also invested some money into getting a full-body scan machine. We expect it to be here in short order. It is on its way.”
Superintendent Hodge continued: “It would bring down the importation of contraband into the facility to almost zero because everybody visiting the facility would have to pass through that full-body scan machine – from the Superintendent down. That machine would be able to tell whether or not someone has contraband on his or her person or in the body.”
He went on to note that contraband items can be hidden inside the skin, including in the foreskin of uncircumcised men. “As a matter of fact, one of our officers actually had to take a cell phone out of the rectum of a resident, so people go that far to get contraband items into the facility. The Superintendent’s Office stands for zero tolerance when it comes to violation of the Prison Act by any resident, officer or civilian coming to visit a resident,” Superintendent Hodge said.
The Superintendent of Prisons also informed the Press Unit in the Office of the Prime Minister that each HMP employee now has a locker. The lockers were installed last month.
“We now have lockers for the prison employees, so they cannot carry their bags or personal belongings beyond where the lockers are. No one can carry their cell phones outside of what we call the gate lodge,” Superintendent Hodge said.
He also said that, “If we suspect any employee of having contraband in their locker, the officer responsible for operation along with the Superintendent and that officer [who is suspected of having contraband] would go to the locker, we would have the officer open the locker and we would carry out the necessary search. The civilian workers have lockers also, so the same goes for them.”
Superintendent of Prisons, Mr. Junie Hodge, continued: “One of the things that the Superintendent’s Office has declared on is that once any officer contravenes any of the regulations, especially to bring in contraband into the facility, we will have that officer arrested and charged forthwith, because the officer was charged with the responsibility to ensure that these things don’t come into the facility.”