Head of Prison Visiting Committee labels protesting prisoners ‘disruptive’

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Head of the Prison Visiting Committee Bishop Charlesworth Browne has slammed inmates at His Majesty’s Prison (HMP) by labelling their recent protest actions as “devious” and “disruptive”.

Over the weekend, prisoners clamoured against what they claimed was days of inadequate food or meals unfit for human consumption, with over 160 inmates signing a petition to demand immediate improvements to prison conditions.

Yesterday, some inmates frustrated by being placed under total lockdown apparently seized keys from a prison officer and let themselves into the institution’s courtyard, prompting police to be summoned.

Speaking to Observer yesterday, Bishop Browne questioned why the prisoners were so easily able to communicate with the media via cell phones.

He also noted that their actions are not helpful to their legitimate concerns with the prison conditions.

“Some of them figure the Visiting Committee has not been doing anything to help them; they do not know how hard we struggle and negotiate for better to be done with the prison, but what they are doing now is not going to help anything,” he stated.

He acknowledged that the living conditions at HMP are deplorable with issues such as the use of slop buckets and overcrowding being well-documented by various news outlets and international agencies over the years.

“The living conditions at the prison need to be addressed post-haste … what is necessary right now is that we get a completely new prison facility.

“There are some things that cannot be done with the facility as it is.

They [the prisoners] are asking about toilet facilities in their cells; that cannot happen in the present facility,” Bishop Browne explained.

However, he stated that the prisoners have been resisting the solutions which the authorities have provided thus far.

“It has to be noted that some time ago, a number of chemical toilets were sourced—about 20 to be used in the prison—and just like they refused to eat food, they refused to use them.

“It is like a child who is asking something of a parent who is struggling … but the child does not understand it and continues to make demands of the parent that they cannot fulfil,” he said.

Speaking to Observer yesterday, the prisoners claimed the entire facility has been under lockdown since Sunday, leaving them unable to do laundry or empty the slop buckets used as makeshift toilets, and that prison authorities failed to deliver on promised solutions.

The prisoners have resorted to sharing their snacks to alleviate hunger as they have not received any food and their families were reportedly prevented from bringing food to them.

This led the prisoners to claim that once peaceful protests could further escalate as they have become increasingly irate.

They also demanded that Minister of Justice and Public Safety, Attorney General Steadroy Benjamin, immediately intervene to alleviate the issue.

However, Bishop Browne said that the problems at HMP cannot be for one individual to solve.

“You have to get the society involved,” he explained.

“It is not about government, the Superintendent, or the Prison Visiting Committee, it is about the entire community; we need to get away from blaming the government, the Attorney General, the Superintendent.”

Over the weekend, Prison Superintendent Jermaine Anthony told Observer that the institution had been forced to ration dwindling supplies of liquid petroleum gas (LPG) or cooking gas, and that inmates had refused to eat the crackers and cheese they had been given.

Bishop Browne commented on this point, stating that he does not “see why the prisoners would refuse to eat biscuits”.

Meanwhile, a social media post made by Observer radio host Dr Jacqui Quinn claimed that a number of prisoners reportedly entered the courtyard yesterday, using keys seized from an officer.

The keys were supposedly procured after inmates threw faecal matter and urine at the officer.

Riot squad members and local police were reportedly called to the scene, and it was alleged that tear gas and rubber bullets were used, with one prisoner reportedly being hit by a rubber bullet.

Observer reached out to the police spokesperson Inspector Frankie Thomas and the Prison Superintendent for comment but both declined.


SOURCE: Observer

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9 COMMENTS

  1. The way that beggy beggy bankrupt Malawi dengue fever mosquito bite Franz sounded yesterday, if #UPPNEARGA win all prisoners will be freed. Dont be surprised if you hear #HFWL announce that as a policy.

  2. Bishop Browne, Are you aware that the Hon. Assot Michael call ( Friday the 1st day of protest) the former and present superintendents of His Majesty’s Prison to offer some relief in the form of 40 boxes of chicken and cases of drinking water???

    And it was refused on the basis of “we have enough food and water”….

    You KNOW first hand the struggles of the prison. As you referred to the government as a single parent… this was so out of space. When this so called single parent is also the Boss, employer, treasurer and choooses to neglect its responsibilities to one of its disabled children.

    SHAME SHAME ON YOU BISHOP AND THE REST OF THE SO CALLED VISITING COMMITTEE MEMBERS. All you and them care about is that government pay check to do absolutely NOTHING for the very persons you were hired to work for.

    But you label them as disruptive…. only he who knows it feels it. You missed it all together.

    So just shut up……

    • Exactly. Them to damn wicked and horrible. Look at his old nasty mouth. Pure friggin evil. Human devil’s them be.
      Have no humanity in them.

    • What human rights are you talking about? There is no such thing in this country. Those in power and authority treat the citizens any old way. When they in power and authority they don’t give a damn about nobody.

  3. PRISON VISITING COMMITTEE,ARE THEY PAID.IF SO,BY WHOM.WHAT CHURCH IS THAT MAN BROWNE A BISHOP OF. WAS HE EVER WITH THE MORAVIAN CHURCH?IF HE WAS THAT PERSON.WHY DID HE LEAVE THAT RELIGION OR ASKED TO LEAVE.JUST ASKING QUESTIONS HERE.SO CALLED BISHOP BROWNE,JUDGE NOT LEST YE BE JUDGED.

  4. This bishop should be locked in room with a slop pail and crackers and cheese for a week. He is suppose to be advocating for the prisoners but seems to be a government stooge.
    How many times have we heard the talk of a new prison? How many times have we heard of a new cemetery? The people running this country at present care only about themselves. Guess they are waiting for some grant. They say Antigua is an economic power house.

Comments are closed.