Is there any doubt that Nurse was the wrong man for the job at the time he was appointed? Who would appoint a career military man to manage an overcrowded prison supported by an untrained, unruly and underpaid group of wardens? We have already alluded in a previous article that it was a political appointment, the Nurse – Mia connection!
Over the years, we have read all manner of stories which have caused us to wonder if Glendairy prison was a penal institution. There were escapes from the prison with alleged outside help. Do you remember the Colombian convict who quietly disappeared after being sentenced by the Courts of Barbados? There was the female prisoner who was mysteriously impregnated; female and male prisoners according to prison policy are separated so the culprit pointed to a prison warden being the sperm donor. What about Juman who is said to have enjoyed comforts during his time at the prison which was unheard of in its history. We had prisoners who mysteriously died while in custody. The list is endless to describe the inefficiency at the prison over the years. To Nurse’s credit, he implemented security measures which stopped the absurd break-outs but that is all.
Although BU feel that Nurse is the wrong man for the job, the blame must surely be placed on the government which appointed him in the position. The lack of a comprehensive penal reform system promised by the former Attorney General David Simmons that he would assist in a more efficient management of our prison population. We think this is at the root cause of many of the issues at the prison and our judicial system. In the year 2007, our lone prison is not a place where rehabilitation can take place. We have heard stories where a magistrate preferred to condemn accused persons to the Psychiatric Hospital to avoid having to send them to “Station Hill”.
It is no secret, according to our source, that the environment in our prison has become susceptible to corrupt behavior by the very officials appointed to oversee it. This was also mentioned by a Commissioner in the ongoing prison inquiry in relation to late payment of salaries to some wardens who have not been paid in some instances for up to two months; a situation which would no doubt breed corrupt behavior. According to our source, those talented prisoners who produce the beautiful art which we view on display from time to time have suffered at the hands of a scam which has been happening for years. The policy of the prison is to share with the prisoner some percentage of the sale of any paintings sold. We have been told this has not been happening, and in many cases the prisoners have received nothing for art sold. Also occurring is the manipulation of the final price of the painting which differ from the official price of the art, e.g. agreed price on painting X but sold for x+%, and the % pocketed by the corrupt officials at the prison. This practice, according to our source has been the entrenched way of doing business for years under the watch of Daphne who is now retired.
The blogs and most public opinion focus on corruption by government officials; but corruption in Barbados has become endemic as a way people attempt to support unsustainable lifestyles. The fact that some prisoners had to suffer the incarceration for their crimes and on top of that suffer the corrupt system within Glendairy is something which civil Barbados should be very ashamed.