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Govt looking to address slopping at prison

As he pointed to a number of efforts to improve conditions at the Bahamas Department of Correctional Services (BDOCS), Minister of National Security Marvin Dames abhorred the longstanding practice of slopping in the facility.

He said his ministry is working to remedy the issue, first with a temporary solution.

“Maximum Security was built in 1952 to accommodate 432 inmates and without plumbing,” he said during his contribution to the 2020/2021 budget debate.

“Consequently, there is no space to consider toilets and inmates have to endure the unsanitary condition of slopping, which is the manual task of disposing of human waste.

“For decades, cries have fallen on deaf ears. However, we can’t and will not accept that officers in a modern Bahamas will have to collect and transport feces in open trucks.

“Although we are in a difficult time, we have begun and pledge to continue to rectify this problem.

“To improve conditions, biodegradable sanitized waste bags, costing $1,440, were introduced, so that inmates can properly and securely dispose of their waste.

“Although just a temporary solution, it is a small step in the right direction.

“In the 2020/2021 fiscal year, a sanitation truck for the disposal of human waste will be purchased to ensure the safe transport and disposal of waste.”

Conditions at the prison have long been criticized by local and international human rights agencies.

The United States Department of State has issued several human rights reports reprimanding the conditions of the prison.

In its latest report, which was released in March 2019, the State Department noted the facility’s “harsh” conditions and made note of the lack of running water in many cells, which requires human waste to be removed by bucket.

Overcrowding has also been a persistent issue at the facility in recent years.

Dames made note of a number of other improvements to the facility yesterday.

“To improve sleeping conditions, our government invested $409,226 for 100 bunk beds, which were constructed by the inmates,” he said.

“This simple act now aids in better management of the cells, while improving the living conditions.

“We have also introduced 56 quarts of transparent containers costing $9,727 for inmates in maximum security for storing. Only what fits and is authorized are allowed and this reduces clutter while promoting efficient cell block organization and management.”

Further, $328,624 was invested in renovations to the southern wing in maximum security, which has been transformed into modern cell blocks comprising of new flooring, air condition, masonry, and aesthetics.

“In addition, the Central Intake Facility benefited from capital developments as it was transformed into two dormitories for inmates enrolled in the [Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute] BTVI Programme.”

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Rachel Knowles

Rachel joined The Nassau Guardian in January 2019. Rachel covers national issues. Education: University of Virginia in Charlottesville, BA in Foreign Affairs and Spanish

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