IN yet another incident which has had the effect of piling embarrassment upon embarrassment for the authorities, a convict walked out of the Golden Grove facility in Arouca on Thursday, and was on the run up to last night.
He had been serving time for malicious damage and is scheduled to be released next April on a 24-month conviction. The man simply walked away from a gang in which he had been placed doing work on the outside in an agricultural project operated by the prison.
The gang had begun work around 7.30 a.m. and officers, at some point during the morning, realised this inmate had escaped their notice and made a run for it. This latest incident follows on the still-puzzling incident just three months ago, in which eight men on remand walked out of the same Golden Grove prison. All eight were recaptured, with the last two of them being found at a house in the South Oropouche district several weeks later.
Prisons Commissioner Gerald Wilson has, once again, promised a report into this latest incident, but the country awaits satisfactory reporting from the deadly prison break staged by three inmates at the Port of Spain prison in July 2015. A police officer was killed in that incident, and officers were suspended from duty. To date, however, this matter remains outstanding, with continuing claims and counter-claims as to what went wrong, and who ultimately should be held responsible. At least one of the suspended officers has recently appeared on TV6’s Morning Edition, calling on the authorities to clear his name.
In the wake of the Thursday-morning walk-away by this single inmate, Commissioner Wilson has said a report on the May escapes has been completed. He is yet, however, to explain what has happened concerning the July 2015 prison break, which remains as a stain on the competence and the professionalism of the officers whose job it is to maintain safe and secure penal facilities.
Commissioner Wilson talks blithely about “recommendations” which are to be put in place concerning the report from the escape of the eight men in May. He should, however, say whether and to what extent what is contained in that report bears any connection to the security procedures which were spectacularly breached in 2015 in Port of Spain.
The commissioner has a responsibility, having now occupied this seat after taking over from his predecessors in this office, to provide assurances to the population that measures are in place to stem the relative ease with which inmates find the means to spring free from detention, among other misdemeanours.
Officers have claimed to have been victimised by what has transpired, and what is still at issue concerning the 2015 incident. This matter needs to be addressed with greater urgency than that with which the country has been fed to date.
Thursday’s incident points clearly to the gaping hole in the security system for persons being held at the State’s pleasure, despite repeated escapes—a shameful reflection on those whose job it is to hold and treat with them.