BASSETERRE, St. Kitts - SINCE the seizure of a large quantity of contraband items at Her Majesty’s Prison last year, which followed a 21-day security lockdown, Superintendent of Prisons Junie Hodge has indicated that new security measures have been implemented and are bearing fruit.
Among the new measures are improved screening at the facility’s entrance with security monitors, a thorough search of the individuals entering the facility and their contents, along with the installation of CCTV Cameras on the perimeter fences to monitor persons who would be inclined to throw items over the wall and into the Prison compound.
Hodge indicated to SKNVibes that the new measures have been working well, reflecting on the screening that this writer experienced while clearing security to enter the Prison.
“Everyone that comes through, as you would have experienced, must be searched,” he said.
To support his point of the fruitful nature of the new security measures, the Superintendent pointed to two cases involving individuals who were expected to be upholding the laws of the Federation.
“You would have heard that there was a police officer and one of our very own, who were arrested and charged for breaching the security measures that we have in place.
He was at the time referencing the cases involving Senior Prison Officer Sergeant Vince Gumbs, who is alleged to have smuggled marijuana, tobacco, lighters, a cellular phone and a charger into the prison.
And, Police Constable Cleavon Chumney, who was charged for throwing illegal contents from the Basseterre Police Station into the Prison compound. An investigation into the contents revealed that it was a quantity of marijuana and lighters.
Superintendent Hodge noted that, “So far the security measures that we have in place - we can say are working more than 60%”.
In February 2016, shortly after he took the helm, Hodge closed the facility for 21-day and carried out raids on each block. It was then that prison officials netted a number of illegal items.
Included in the confiscated items were: cellular phones, marijuana, ice picks, batteries, shanks and lighters.
At a press conference held to reveal the find, Hodge told reporters then that he was looking to have a full body scan machine installed at the facility. However, that is not yet in place.
“Like I have told the Permanent Secretary, we would have wanted that new system to be implemented as soon as possible, like last year,” he said. “The quicker we get it the better for us.”
Additionally, persons are still optimistic that they can get smuggled items through to prisoners, as recently, a young man tried unsuccessfully to take a phone chip into the facility and as a result, he was arrested and charged, Hodge noted.
Prison officers are stepping up their efforts to rid the facility of contraband items as in the past when criminal activities were committed on the outside, some of the items would have be used to receive the information; and the prisoners would congregate to discuss the happenings.