Improvements needed at prison
Minister of National Security Marvin Dames yesterday acknowledged the need for improvements at the Bahamas Department of Correctional Services (BDCS) after an American pastor, convicted of sexually assaulting a minor, told a Bahamian court that he’d rather be extradited than go to the Fox Hill prison.
Don Martin, who was convicted and sentenced to life in prison in Atlanta, told Magistrate Samuel McKinney on Wednesday that he had been threatened by gangs at the prison.
He said, “Fox Hill isn’t a place for anybody to stay at. I need to go.”
Dames said, “We all know that the conditions at Fox Hill prison need to be improved.
“Since taking office, the current commissioner, Commissioner [Charles] Murphy, has taken tremendous steps, positive steps, to begin bringing about a change in the environment and conditions at that institution, and of course, he has the support of the Citizen Security and Justice Program…
“So there’s a lot of work being done, and I would say that over the last two years we would have done more work at that institution than possibly ever before.”
Dames also pointed out that many of the issues at the prison were left behind by the previous Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) administration.
“They had in their administration the building, for example, a damaged roof that had been damaged under the previous administration and never fixed from the last hurricane,” he said.
“This government has provided the funding.
“And the work on that building, which was significant, is being finalized. There are other critical issues that are being addressed and money has been set aside to effect the necessary repairs.”
A U.S. state department human rights report released in March said the prison did not meet international standards, and highlighted violence by guards against prisoners and harsh and life-threatening prison conditions are the most serious human rights problems in The Bahamas.
It also listed “overcrowding, poor nutrition and inadequate sanitation and ventilation” as some of the issues at the facilities.