Categorized | Editorials

A Time for Action

It’s one of those stubborn facts that just will not go away; namely that truth which is summed up in advice to the effect that many hands can [and often do] make a burden light.

So today, we now call on the Hon. Dr. Bernard J. Nottage to be up and doing as regards cleaning up Her Majesty’s Prison located in Fox Hill.

While he is up and doing with this project he and his colleagues around the Table and all other men and women of goodwill in this country should remind themselves that – as professing Christians – each and every one of them is answerable [in the end] for whatever they decide to do concerning this truly abusive state of affairs.

In addition, we also call on all of our fellow-Bahamians to take a breather from their righteous wrath against the so-called ‘criminal element’ and spend some time in honest interrogation of their own man in the mirror.

Thereafter [we are quite certain; some of them will honestly inquire of Authority: Is it I, Lord.

Even as we call on the Minister of National Security to be up and doing, we also implore him to summon the Christian Council, the Anglican community, The Roman Catholics, Lutherans and all others such who say that they are called to do God’s work in these last and evil days.

In addition, we remind them that some of their members work in the prison system and that – as such – they too are obliged to work and live in those squalid conditions and that their families are thereby also exposed to much of the hurt these men and women experience as a result of some of the mess they experience.

As noted previously, Minister Nottage witnessed first-hand unsanitary working conditions and prisoner overcrowding.

As Dr. Nottage also noted, “…But there are some problems which I’ve been exposed to this morning in terms of accommodation, in terms of overcrowding – which is really no longer acceptable. The very large numbers of persons who are on remand are far in excess of those who are actually sentenced and incarcerated as a result of that…”

Dr. Nottage also revealed that he saw up to six prisoners in a cell designed for two leaving some to “virtually sleep on the floor.”

In addition, the Minister was regaled with stories that spoke of horror-unspeakable when the water system was not working – and that for sure, was the norm rather than the exception.

This is a mess.

In a moment of the most lucid sobriety and just perhaps also, because he is [by call to ministry] a healer, the Minister averred that, “…It is a very sober feeling for me, walking around the prison and seeing all these black young men, hail and hardy, being warehoused…”

His conclusion was direct and to the point: “…We have to create a society in which young people who have potential also have ambition and a system of values by which they guide their lives – Christian values, if you like – but even if not Christian, a positive belief in something…”

We absolutely agree with this man.

But agree or not – the fact remains that we have on our collective hands a problem that begs for relief; that begs each and every one of us to remember that each and every man or woman who either works or is imprisoned or on remand are our kin – and that the votes of their families are also some of the voices that today cry out for relief.

A truly wise Dr. Bernard J. Nottage would – were he to remain true to his calling – would listen in, hear them and bring the weight of his ministry on the side of law, decency and order.

We hereby insist that the time for real action is now; that great things can be done as regards the modernization of the prison; and that there is today an urgency in the moment that resonates with hope.

If – as we suggest – there is consensus formed and forged in the Body of Believers that prisoners and their guards should be afforded the decency that comes with being human. If there is a similar understanding that the Bahamas should – as a matter of the most urgent priority – live up to its obligations as a member of the United Nations – the conclusion beckons that the Bahamian people can and should be taught that it is their duty to support each and every effort aimed at bringing us into compliance with international best standards as regards the care due prisoners, those men and women on remand – and for sure, their wardens.

The time for real action is now!

Written by Jones Bahamas

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