Categorized | National News

Prison Officers To Seek Legal Advice

Officials in the Bahamas Prisons Association (BPA) are scheduled to meet with a team of lawyers today in a last ditch effort to get the government to respond to a plethora of issues they have been complaining about for a number of years.

According to BPA President Gregory Archer chief among their concerns is the recently introduced Correctional Services Bill that was tabled in parliament back in October.

Mr. Archer said the bill, which is proposed to replace the Prison Act, simply does not go far enough in protecting prison officers and in essence, he said, gives more rights to the prisoners than the officers.

“We are going to meet with our lawyers and chart the way forward,” he said. “For too long we have been complaining and nothing is ever done.”

“This bill is our main concern right now and we need these issues to be addressed. There is nothing in there for us. We’ve been fighting this battle alone for too long and now it’s time for action.”

There are several facets of the bill.

The first part deals with renaming Her Majesty’s Prisons (HMP) the Bahamas Department of Correctional Services and would also facilitate a new title for the head of the prisons.

He or she would now be called the commissioner of correctional services.

The bill also addresses issues in the prisons such as drugs, cell phones and weapons circulating around the prison.

Other issues include “slopping” which entails the use of buckets for human waste, which has been going on at the prison for decades.

“Everything in that bill is about making life better for everyone else but the prison officers,” he added. “What about us and our safety?”

“These are the issues we need to address with our lawyers.”

Mr. Archer added that the longstanding issues of promotions, workplace hazards, unsanitary conditions and safety have yet to be addressed, even in the wake of industrial action like work-to-rule, threats of strike and mass media publicity highlighting their concerns.

“The government doesn’t need to be alarmed about what happens next,” he added. “These are the same old issues we have been complaining about. We have gotten no results over the years so now we talk to our lawyers.”
Members of the Police Staff Association (PSA) are said to be joining the BPA at today’s meeting.

Ianthia Smith

Written by Ianthia Smith

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