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Surviving the ‘hellhole’ of maximum security

Rubin, 33, has been incarcerated at the Bahamas Department of Correctional Services three times.

His longest stint in the maximum security was three months.

That was in 2013. It was one of his shorter stays.

He recalled the “nightmare” of having to share a cell with “five or six” other men.

“It’s a hellhole,” said Rubin, who requested we not use his full name to protect his identity.

He added, “All of those persons have a jug to pee in and if the people don’t come, the cleaner don’t come to collect jugs that means you have to use that same pee jug the next day.

“Every time you crack that jug, you got to crack it in that cell where everyone got to smell that. In the bull cage, you’ve got four buckets for 40 guys to use.

“Sometimes a person is going to use the bucket to stool and sometimes food is coming to get served the same time. You’re getting food to go eat and he’s in the back stooling and the smell is just everywhere. That’s the kind of life we live in there.”

Asked how he moved around the small space, Rubin said, “It was very jammed up. It was very terrifying. You can’t really move, you got to be tipping toe and stuff like that. When it’s time to sleep, you got to just set your bed right there where you are. There’s no space to even shake the towel or whatever you have.

“You can’t stretch out. Talk about move about? You in a cell with man and nobody want you rubbing up against them, so you got to learn to be like a person in the army. You got to sleep straight and keep your front to yourself.”

Last week, The Nassau Guardian was led by Commissioner of Corrections Charles Murphy on a guided tour of the prison.

As the tour progressed through the poorly lit, stifling corridors of maximum security, the commissioner noted that the inmate populations in remand and maximum security accounted for roughly 78 percent of the prison population with around 1,387 inmates in the two units.

During a walk-through of maximum security, inmates were seen cramped in tiny cells with barely enough space to stretch their legs or walk around.

Some inmates were hunched inches apart from each other, visibly trying to find comfort in the pockets of space that were afforded to them in the cell.

Rubin said one of his worst experiences in prison was when he was in the “bunk cage,” which is another section of maximum security.

“That’s the one with over 40 guys,” he said.

“No one wanted to sleep. The guys were fighting each other and stuff like that. Everyone had their jick (makeshift blade) out or their toothbrush that they sharpened. No one wanted to sleep because nobody wanted to be a victim so we had to stay up with the crowd.

“That was really one of my scariest moments because I didn’t want to fall asleep with a big fight going on for me to end up getting hurt so I had to stay up with the crowd too until morning.

“Guys were beating on buckets and just being wild, you know what I mean? It was just too much people in one little cell. It was clustered. The bunk cage is only two times bigger than a cell in there and it holds like 40 people and they jam those people in there.”

The former inmate said the conditions of the prison can transform the purest person into “a monster”.

“That place is really turn people into criminals,” he said.

“If you’re not strong, just for going there, it will turn you into a criminal because the things that are talked in there are heavy. Niggas talking how they do this, who they killed. So, you’re around these people and trying to adapt then that starts to become a part of you. The system changes you.”

Rubin said he plans to “open a personal business like a car wash to better my life”.

He said he has no intentions of going back to prison.

“I will be crazy to go back,” Rubin said.

He claimed a false accusation led to his last stay in prison.

The commissioner said plans are underway for the construction of a new building, which will hold 700 inmates, to address the overcrowding issues at the prison.

Staff Reporter at The Nassau Guardian
Jasper Ward started at The Nassau Guardian in September 2018. Ward covers a wide range of national and social issues.
Education: Goldsmith, University of London, MA in Race, Media and Social Justice
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