PRISON OFFICER SPEAKS UP IN LETTER TO THE EDITOR
A Prison Officer Speaks Out As of Monday, 12 April 2021
I am a corrections officer at the Bahamas Department of Corrections (BDOCS), and feel that it is my duty as a public servant to speak out about what I am seeing take place at the institution.
I must say that the statement given by Commissioner Murphy to the media regarding inmate unrest at BDOCS was in my opinion untrue.
Mr Murphy said that the sale of cigarettes was stopped within the Maximum Security facility due to the smoke damaging the air conditioning units.
On Tuesday, April 6th, word spread around the compound that the prison would immediately cease the sale of cigarettes to inmates. This abrupt action was put into effect for the entire compound (Female, Minimum, Medium and Maximum Security) with no prior warning or grace period.
Mr Murphy ignored the advice from his officers that forcing inmates to abruptly quit smoking was the worst course of action and would only lead to unrest.
Nicotine addiction requires help, not a heavy hand. His actions resulted in near riots within the Maximum Security facility and put the safety of officers in direct jeopardy for days. Some of my fellow officers took it open themselves to bring in cigarettes and share with inmates in order to keep calm.
These inmates have been completely cut off from their families for over a year now as Mr Murphy said that he will not allow visits until all of his officers are vaccinated, however most of us officers do not want the vaccine. This is completely unfair to these inmates.
They are human beings whose loved ones are longing to see them. These men are sleeping on hard floors which is in direct violation to
The Corrections Act section 9.1.b. Their cells are overcrowded which is in violation of Section 10.2 of the Act; they are poorly fed and forced to shit in bags/buckets.
They smoke simply to bring some degree of comfort to an inhumanely difficult situation.
To make matters worse Mr Murphy recently instructed officers to perform random drug testing of inmates and anyone found with the slightest amount of marijuana in their system is immediately sent to the Maximum Security prison.
Never before has this happened as previous Commissioners followed Section 40.1.a and gave inmates who violated rules a warning and time frame to clean up their act.
The Act indicated in 40.1.c that only in cases of serious offences should inmates be transferred into Maximum Security.
It is sad to see that the current leadership is only becoming more harsh and punitive towards inmates. Inmates are being denied the right to purchase bottled drinking water;
A young man with the initials M.M. was severely beaten in Medium Security this weekend and had to be rushed to PMH;
The 147 promised clemency since Christmas are disillusioned and feel like pawns in a game; officers have been complaining about Mr Murphy for years to no avail as it would seem that his FNM political ties have made him untouchable.
The public should know that 10 bushels of sweet peppers were harvested last week and not one single pepper made it on an inmates plate.
One hog died of starvation over the Easter weekend and another ate two of its piglets in order to survive.
Now there is a mad rush from leadership to fix and clean up the embarrassing state of the inmates living areas before an upcoming meeting in April.
Honestly, many officers like me would not be working here if we did not need the job. The institution is far from one of Corrections. The leadership is tone deaf and only concerned with administering punishment, not extending help. They are beating these men with sticks to make them bend or break. There are severe issues within BDOCS which are being ignored or glossed over for the public. Any other country would be ashamed and demand change.
A Young and Frustrated BDOCS Officer.
11 April 2021.
( The letter first appeared in The Tribune)