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George: Protection for prison officers

By Sasha Harrinanan Sunday, June 29 2014

click on pic to zoom in
Prison officers show off their skills at the Passing Out and Induction Ceremony for Batch 488 of the Trinidad and Tobago Prison Service, held at Parad...
Prison officers show off their skills at the Passing Out and Induction Ceremony for Batch 488 of the Trinidad and Tobago Prison Service, held at Parad...

The Justice Ministry aims to “reduce or virtually eliminate claims by inmates for compensation for physical injury inflicted by prison officers (through) use of force training” contained in proposed prison rules which would replace those in force since 1838.

This was the assurance given to new prison officers by Justice Minister, Emmanuel George, at the Passing Out and Induction Ceremony for Batch 488 of the Trinidad and Tobago Prison Service, held at Parade Square, Golden Grove Prison, Arouca last Friday (June 27).

He was referring to the Miscellaneous Provisions (Prisons) Bill 2014, passed in the Lower House on June 16 and which will now go before the Senate, and to an ongoing investigation ordered by the police into alleged discrepancies in prison litigation matters brought by inmates against prison officers.

The safety of those who maintain law and order in the nation’s prisons was also addressed by George, who told the 205 graduands, “It is only too evident that prison officers are to be protected from interference in any form as they discharge their important duties.”

As such, the Bill includes a proposed increase from $1,000 or six months imprisonment to $15,000 and two years imprisonment, in the penalty on summary conviction for two actions:

Assaulting, obstructing or resisting the Commissioner of Prisons or any prison officer in execution of his/her duty, or any person aiding or assisting the Commissioner in the execution of his/her duty;

Aiding or inciting any other person to assault, obstruct or resist the Commissioner or prison officer in the execution of his/her duty or any person aiding or assisting the Commissioner in the execution of his/her duty.

Commissioner of Prisons, Conrad Barrow, advised the 21 women and 184 men that they had been employed by the Prison Service “to be a professional and to use professional standards of decency, honesty, loyalty, impartiality and integrity, regardless of your own personal opinions and the many distractions which exist in an environment such as ours.”

He also noted that a humane prison officer looks to treat inmates with the recognition that they are not necessarily that different from his or her self.

“You should try to treat all prisoners with the same level of professionalism. Even if he has to be disciplined, it must be done in a professional manner,” Barrow stated.

Thirteen graduands of Batch 488 are surely on said professional path already, having excelled in various exams for which they received awards at Friday’s ceremony.

There was a tie for third place in Final Examinations between A Squad’s Koumel Hansraj Balliram and C Squad’s Amir Ali while second place went to A Squad’s Jamel Paul and first place to B Squad’s Michael Tiplal.

D Quad’s Dwight Titus was presented with a big trophy for topping the entire Batch in First Aid Training.

Best Recruit - Female went to D Squad’s Yvette Pereira while another D Squad member, Kyle Westfield, took the prize for Best All-Round Recruit.

The Best Recruit per squad was as follows: A Squad —Jamel Paul; B Squad — Kobina Marshall; C Squad —Cayon Collins; D Squad — Kyle Westfield; E Squad — Nateisha Ramdeen (the only woman to earn this title in Batch 488); and F Squad —Darien Garcia.

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