Friday, August 24, 2012

Gangs and Violence in Her Majesty’s Prison (HMP) - Fox Hill - Nassau, The Bahamas

As Gangs Infest Prison

By Jones Bahamas



Something is going on in Her Majesty’s Prison in Fox Hill. And ‘that something’ does not have a good smell.

Whatever it is – it comes with stench attached.

We have heard enough and been told enough to believe that the public should have a full, frank and totally truthful accounting of what is going down in that complex.

Prison Superintendent Dr. Elliston Rahming continues to deny a senior prison officer’s claims that a “new breed of criminals” is infiltrating Her Majesty’s Prisons (HMP), but also is quick to add that gang activity is increasing at the state-run facility.

Perhaps this might be the key: Rahming concedes: – One of the new developments is that we now have discernible gang related groupings in the prison. That is a fairly new phenomenon…”

Ah, hah! Echo cries: – we now have discernible gang related groupings in the prison!

Could this not be evidence of some facts that should matter to the neighbors, family and friends of both the men and women in prison and those who work there?

As we have learned, Dr. Rahming said prison officials are making some headway in figuring out just why gang activity is increasing.

We want to know what this means; how are they measuring headway.

We also want to know the facts behind Prisoner Officer Sergeant Gregory Archer’s statement to the effect that a new breed of more violent hardened criminals are infiltrating HMP, making prison officers’ jobs more dangerous.

The tit-for-tat between Rahming and Archer is itself revelatory of a system that is in need of urgent attention from the Minister of National Security and his colleagues around the Table.

This is most urgent.

Notwithstanding Rahming’s sophistry concerning human nature and all that blather of his about how Cain killed Abel where he so brilliantly opined: “I wouldn’t say that there is a new breed of inmates coming into the prison, but certainly the numbers are greater. But human nature has been the same ever since Cain killed Abel; human nature has not changed.

“We have certainly more persons to deal with, but the nature of mankind has not changed.”
The fact of the matter is this: the prison officer is the man in the middle of the mix.

If this man or woman ever becomes convinced that they should concede the fight, the prison would then and thereafter be in and under the command of the men and women in the gangs.

We must have none of this.

We need – as a matter of the most urgent priority – to know whether there is any truth to the word we are getting that speaks to prison realities where cell-phones are bought, sold and used by inmates; where recalcitrant men and women on remand are routinely being subjected to sexual abuse and where – for better or worse – money talks.

Then, there is all that talk about the extent to which the prison complex is pervaded and saturated with violence.

As Archer testifies: “…Despite prison already being a dangerous place to live and work, over the years the jail atmosphere has gotten even worse, mimicking scenes out of movies and the hit American television show Lock Up with the fights getting even more dangerous…”

And yet, Dr. Rahming maintains that Her Majesty’s Prison is safe.

Rahming’s parsing of prison reality would have us all believe that Archer is not lying; that Her Majesty’s Prisons is under control; that officers come to work with the fair expectation that they will return home to their families; inmates can go to bed at night with the fair expectations that, unless the Lord takes them home, they will wake up in the morning and those are signs of a well-run prison.

And then there is more of same: “A prison is not an easy place to run… But, that is not to say that danger is not ever present because it is ever present.”

Then he concludes danger is ever present as underscored by Rahming himself: “I think it’s fair to say that officers, although they work amongst the worst of the worst, they are in a safe environment insofar as one can call a prison safe.”

Quite frankly, we are not impressed.

We need hear no more to conclude that an end should come to this so-called ‘debate’ between Archer who seems to know what he is talking about and the Prison Superintendent Elliston Rahming who seems to have the public believe him when he says what he says.

We need to hear from the Minister of National Security; and we need to know what – if anything – he proposes to do about this mess.

23 August, 2012

The Bahama Journal