Bahamas National Security Minister Sends Warning on Prison Smuggling

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Hon. B. J. Nottage.

NASSAU, The Bahamas — The smuggling of illicit items into the facilities of the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) is a serious violation of the institution’s regulations and anyone found guilty of engaging in such activities – be it staff, inmates or visitors to the facility – will be dealt with to the fullest extent of the law, Minister of National Security the Hon. Dr. Bernard J. Nottage warned Monday at the dedication ceremony of a new Correctional Intelligence Unit of the Department of Correctional Services.

“While I am generally pleased with the progress being made at the Department of Correctional Services, I am compelled to point out that the extent of the smuggling of contraband into the DCS housing units is very troubling,” Dr. Nottage said.

“About two weeks ago Commissioner Wright (Patrick Wright) shared with me a report on the wide array of illicit items that were seized from each of the housing units (which) included illicit drugs, cellular phones and items which could be used as weapons.

“Further, it was evident that prison property, particularly food items, found their way into the dormitories of inmates. Clearly, the items could not have entered the facilities without the complicity of staff members. What I found equally disheartening is that the items were not found and/or reported by staff whose responsibility it is to regularly observe and search the housing units to which they are assigned.”

Local law enforcement officials say the DCS, like facilities almost anywhere else in the world responsible for housing a large number of inmates, faces a number of challenges while maintaining law and order. Many of the global facilities have established special units to deal with these matters.

Addressing the launch of the Correctional Intelligence Unit Monday on the grounds of the Department of Correctional Services, Dr. Nottage said the establishment of the CIU, will play a vital role in detecting, and bringing to justice, those who violate the regulations of the Correctional Services – be they staff, inmates or members of the general public visiting the facility.

The CIU will be tasked with handling all serious offenses and allegations and investigating both administrative and criminal matters regarding staff, inmates and members of the general public “when there is a vested interest with the Department” amongst some of its other duties.

Comprised of personnel trained in the latest observation and information- gathering techniques, officers assigned to the CIU will “continuously scan” the facility’s environments to produce information dealing with all potential threats.

“Be assured that anyone found engaging in such despicable activity, be they staff, inmate or member of the general public, will be dealt with to the fullest extent of the law,” Dr. Nottage said. “The newly invigorated Intelligence Unit is to assist the Department in detecting and bringing to justice, those who violate the regulations of this institution.”

Dr. Nottage applauded DCS officials for their efforts in “engaging inmates in productive activities” such as masonry, carpentry and general construction, amongst others.

“Studies have shown that few conditions compromise the safety and security of a correctional institution more than idle prisoners,” Dr. Nottage said. “Studies have also shown that educational programmes in corrections facilities reduce rule-breaking and disorder and (that) post-secondary education can cut recidivism rates.”

Dr. Nottage said ensuring that inmates enough training while they are incarcerated is key to reducing the rate at which they commit crimes once they are back on the streets.

“Additionally, programmes that help inmates understand the motivations underlying their actions and the consequences of their behaviours, can reduce misconduct and lower recidivism rates. These are the kinds of activities which the Department of Correctional Service focuses on.

“To the management and staff of the Department of Correctional Services, I thank you for your service and as you celebrate the opening of this Intelligence Unit, I implore you to rededicate yourselves to the mission, vision, goals and ideals of this noble institution – namely the rehabilitation of inmates and their successful reintegration into society,” Dr. Nottage added.

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