New Prison officers warned: ‘Inmates are not your friends’ Loop Barbados

The content originally appeared on: News Americas Now

Black Immigrant Daily News

The content originally appeared on: Barbados News

Barbados’ newest prison officers, the graduates of recruit intake 1/2023, are being warned against becoming chummy and friendly with inmates.

The words of caution came from a top official with decades of experience behind the gates of the island’s prison.

…have any issues here in relation to corruption – we do! I’m not pretending

At the graduation ceremony with passing out displays at the Dodds Prison, St Philip, on March 31, 2023, the 14 graduates were told by Superintendent of Prisons (Ag) Decarlo Payne:

“The prisoners are your charges and not your friends. So just bear that in mind. I’m going to repeat it for you again. The prisoners are not your friends, they are your charges…

“You might come across situations, or a situation where you have relatives who find themselves unfortunately in this organisation, we expect nothing but professional wisdom from each and every one of you, including me. So I’m challenging myself as I challenge you all.”

He told the new officers that their “political masters and Cabinet” have that mindset too, not the prison superiors alone, that they are not to fraternise with the prisoners.

Furthermore, he called on them to take their role and responsibilities very seriously.

“You have been inducted into a prison service that has at its mandate to ensure that the Barbados public and the regional public are proud of the quality of service to which we provide, a prison service that is driven to be the best in the region as well as beyond the hemisphere.”

He said that in their three months of training, they were mentored, educated and placed on a positive, good foundation to act as springboard for their careers.

Calling on them to perform their duties as “professional prison officers”, he said, “High standards are expected of you. You will be required to behave like a professional law enforcement officer when on and off the job. You will be expected to follow the laws, all the laws and policies and procedures.”

Giving them an example of how corruption presented itself in the past within the service, Payne said:

“I want to share a little experience with you as it relates to this whole issue of corruption and professionalism and the fine line, I could recall years ago when we were at Station Hill, we were having challenges there with drugs in the institution and we were also having feedback that staff were involved in the process of trafficking illegal substances into the prison. It was fairly difficult to put a hand on what was happening, till one day, a staff member showed up at the front gate, with a false pocket behind the pocket that has his book in it. And that was the end of it – history! He was arrested, charged, put before the courts and he was fired. So just bear that in mind in relation to what is happening here.”

If you don’t have integrity you will fall for anything

He said that he is not hiding the faults at the new prison at Dodds either. “I’m not going to be facetious to you to suggest that we don’t have any issues here in relation to corruption – we do! I’m not pretending. I would never come here and pretend. Do not allow yourself to be influenced down that line.

“I believe that one individual that has that designation [as a corrupt officer] is one too many.”

Therefore, he urged the officers – six women and eight men, to be honest as well as professional. “If you don’t have integrity you will fall for anything. And if you treasure your integrity, and guard your integrity jealously, you’re not gonna fall that easily. And that is what drives me every day.”

Payne told them if the stay true to doing what is right they will make themselves, their family, friends, and the Barbados Prison Service proud.

“Each and every one of us has a conscience… in my 41 years that I was here, I held my own and I would expect and entreat each of you to do the same.”

With the day’s graduation the complement of prison officers stands 349. The next intake is expected June/July and the hope is that the numbers in that course would take the service to full capacity at 372.