Wardens sell cellphones to prisoners, CoI hears

Deadly prison riot



By Shemuel Fanfair

As the Commission of Inquiry (CoI) into the deadly prison fire which left 17 dead continues, the Commissioners heard on Tuesday that prison wardens are the ones that sell mobile phones to prisoners.

"Social media" prisoner Carl Brown
“Social media” prisoner Carl Brown
Inmate Roy Jacobs testifying about deadly events
Inmate Roy Jacobs testifying about deadly events

Carl Brown, who is currently serving 13 years for murder, took the stand at Tuesday’s session, where he shockingly revealed that prisoners can purchase the mobile devices for $7000 in the Camp Street Prison.
The inmate, who is presently on his seventh phone since being incarcerated, often times updates his Facebook account about life in prison. Brown told the Commission that whenever a phone is seized, a fee is paid and the phones is returned.
Giving evidence about the night of the fire, Brown told the Commission that assistance was only rendered to prisoners after officers began to “smell human flesh”.
Brown, along with fellow Camp Street prisoner Roy Jacobs, told the Commission that the events stemmed from ill treatment of prisoners and lengthy waiting times for sentencing.
Roy Jacobs, 38, who is serving a five-year sentence, in his testimony restated the testimony of other prisoners, who posited that Deputy Director of Prisons Gladwin Samuels reportedly said that the prisoners should be left to burn.
“The heat was so much that he (Kojo, a mechanic) back off, then Samuels said leave them alone, dem set de fire let dem bun,” Jacobs stressed.
Commission Counsel Excellence Dazzell questioned Jacobs further on what he observed next after these alleged comments were made. “Mr Samuels went back in Capital B Division, where words were exchanged and bricks were shying; after this, bow!” the prisoner said.
Attorney Dexter Todd, who represented two inmates, asked an increasingly agitated Roy Jacobs if he attempted to mislead the Commission due to his previous run-ins with the Deputy Director of Prisons. Jacobs was vociferous in his denial of this assertion.
The Attorney also grilled Jacobs on alleged plans which inmates had to start the fires. Todd also posited to Jacobs a supposition that perhaps there was an attempt of suicide.
When Jacobs was asked if he had ever heard the inmates planning to “commit suicide” by way to burn themselves to death, a “no” was the response that he posited. The inmate admitted that there have been sporadic incidents of fire over time but noted that those in March were the most serious.
CoI Chairman James Patterson made several objections to Attorney Selwyn Pieters’ – who is representing the Prison Service – constant references to video footage of the prison fire which was not available for the Commission to review. In the exchange, Patterson raised concerns over the way in which the video footage was released to the public.
In the video footage, which was shown to media operatives on Monday, prisoner Collis Collison and members of a riot forces engaged in an altercation.
The CoI was adjourned and Pieters will continue his intense grilling of witness Roy Jacobs at the start of this morning’s session.