Trouble Brewing At Dodds Prison
One of the more controversial projects inherited by the Barbados government is the state-of-the-art prison project located at Dodds, St. Phillip. First it was tagged at one hundred million dollars, then two hundred million and in recent weeks the figure has jumped to seven hundred million. We couldn’t resist jumping on the seven hundred million band wagon! Yes BU is aware the seven hundred and forty nine million refers to the future cost of the prison which was built under a BOLT financing arrangement. Governor Delisle Worrell at his most recent press conference felt constrained to mention the impact the prison loan will have on the foreign reserves come every January for the next 22 years. Barbados under the current arrangement has to repay for the next 22 years $30 million dollars.
What has made the Dodds prison even more controversial is the fact it was built by VECO, an Alaskan based company which had a very murky reputation before it was sold. VECO had no track record of building prisons at the time the contract was awarded; in case you are wondering there is the uncanny similarity to the ABC Highway contract which was awarded to 3S. The recent report in the press which fingered Minister Darcy Boyce as a key participant in the decision to award the VECO prison contract has added to the intrigue.
In all of the discussion about VECO and a seven hundred and forty nine million dollar prison, Barbadians appear to have forgotten the plight of the prison warders. Going back to the last administration the prison warders have expressed concerns with their conditions of employment. BU remembers prison boss John Nurse attempting to make some changes at the prison and the Prison Officers Association forced to request the legal services of Ralph Thorne to defend member’s interest. How can Barbados forget the inquiry into the burning down of Glendairy which again brought warder grievances to public light. We are into the mid-term of the current administration and the problems have not gone away.
According to BU sources the officers at the Barbados Prison Service feel marginalized by the administration and have turned to BU for help.
Here is what we know:
- 38 Prison officers will be going home soon.
- A number of qualified Senior Officers have had their acting allowance cut. Some of these officers have been acting since the 90’s.
- The Prison Officers Association is being ignored by Personnel Administration, Public Service Commission, Advisory Board, Permanent Secretary, Attorney General and the Prime Minister.
- Last week an officer was threaten with a gun at the Prison gate by an ex-convict, the prison warder who recently married an ex-Convict was present. When questioned by the police she stated that the officer in question had ‘nuff to say bout she and she husband and she aint giving any information.’ The report of the incident is lodged at District C Police Station.
- There are other reports of theft at the prison, officers are stealing from each other to survive and support their families because they are not being adequately remunerated.
- Officers have been separated in the interim because of financial and emotional problems, officers have been going to counselling regularly.
BU suggests mismanagement was part of the problem experienced at the Glendairy Prison before it was razed, we hope lessons have been learnt from that experience.