Inmates robbed infirmary during riots – CoI hears

Deadly prison riot

The Commission of Inquiry into the deadly Camp Street Prison riots heard late last week that Camp Street Prison infirmary was robbed and vandalised during the riot.
Chief Prison Officer – Medex Patricia Anderson, who joined the service in 2008, was questioned on the state of the infirmary at the end of the March 4 rioting, which continued after 17 inmates had lost their lives the previous day.

Members of the Commission:  Dale Erskine, Retired Justice James Patterson, Merle Mendonca
Members of the Commission: Dale Erskine, Retired Justice James Patterson, Merle Mendonca

Former Director of Prisons and CoI Commissioner Dale Erskine asked the witness if the facility was it intact.
“No sir, it was vandalised by the prisoners… we lose drugs, equipment, instruments,” testified Anderson.
The CoI sought to ascertain the current state of her department following the robbery. “We have some amount of instruments replaced and we have some amount of drugs but there is still the fear of the staff,” the Medex responded.
“Whilst going up to the infirmary division, prisoners were shouting what they plan to do – kill medical staff that day (March 4),” the witness testified.
Anderson stated further that the staff are currently working two shifts of 12 hours each, up from the normal three shifts which covered 8 hours each.
She also stated that on average, the infirmary would have up to “40 inmates” being attended to.
When questioned by Commissioners, the Medex also revealed that there is no permanent Psychiatric specialist at the Camp Street Prison. Chairman Retired Justice James Patterson then expressed worry over the prison not having a permanent Psychiatric Nurse and/or Doctor stationed at the penitentiary to address the problems associated with mental health.
Meanwhile, President David Granger in the most recent TV edition of Public Interest opined that the Camp Street Prison Inquiry has been going on too long and is of the view that it should be brought to end as soon as possible.
After the riots, Camp Street prisoners met with Public Security Minister Kemraj Ramjattan and Minister of State Joseph Harmon to address the needs and conditions of the inmates – a move which met with some criticism.
The President later gave the greenlight for the three-member CoI to be convened to ascertain the circumstances which led to the deaths of the inmates.
The final witnesses are expected to testify this week at the Ministry of the Presidency’s Department of Public Service on Waterloo Street.