Contraband: a multimillion-dollar business – Deputy Director of Prisons

first_imgDeadly prison riotBy Shemuel FanfairDeputy Director of Prisons, Gladwin Samuels is of the view that the loss of resale value from seized contraband items from the Camp Street Prison is responsible for the disdain inmates harbour against him. These comments were made on the sidelines of the Commission of Inquiry into the March prison riots.When questioned by media operatives on Wednesday, Deputy Director Samuels, who has 15 years’ experience in the Prison Service, revealed that at the Camp Street facility contraband was “basically a multimillion-dollar business”. He also explained that “for the last two years” since he has held the post of Officer in Charge, pounds of narcotics have been removed, causing inmates to incur significant losses.“The record is there to show that I would have removed pounds of marijuana during raids and thousands of packs of cigarettes were found…if you do the mathematics based on the resale value in prison, those prisoners would have lost significant amount of cash and all those are reasons why they would not like a person like me around,” the Deputy Director of Prisons expressed.“Many of them [prisoners] manage to maintain families, many of them manage to pay a lot of fees that are attached to their imprisonment while in there…I’m putting systems in place to prevent them from carrying out those businesses [and] more than likely, they’re gonna be affected,” Samuels further observed.In responding to assertions that he gave orders to lock the prison door, Samuels once again reiterated that he “was not there at the beginning of the exercise” on the day of the March 3 “big fire” which claimed the lives of 17 inmates.The Attorney representing the Guyana Prison Service and Guyana Police Force, Selwyn Pieters, who was also present when his witness was speaking to the media, noted that video evidence would reveal that it was a much lower-ranked prison officer who uttered statements that the door should be locked.Pieters explained, “There’s actually a video that exists, that shows when the door was locked, shows who locked the door, and showed who gave the order to lock the door and it was somebody way below Senior Superintendent Samuel’s rank – that was Assistant Superintendent of Prisons, Hudson, and at the point in time where that order was given.”The media was also told that at the time this order was supposedly given, prisoners were rioting and there was one “aggressive” prisoner “Shaka McKenzie” who was said to be “instigating prisoners” and the prisoners “rushed the door” with improvised weapons.When asked if he would “opt out” of his position after all of the controversy associated with the riots, Deputy Director Samuels offered no comment.Continuing his testimony on Wednesday, Samuels provided evidence to show that he travelled to Bartica on March 2 and returned early on March 3. Under cross-examination, Samuels also disclosed that only prisoners on remand were housed in the Capital A section of the prison.The Deputy Director told the Commission that it was he who told Acting Director of Prisons Carl Graham that the prisoners were trapped in the Capital A block. When asked about training in negotiations and crisis management, Samuels posited that “all officers are exposed to basic training”, but he could not speak to formal training.With regard to the door being eventually opened to release the prisoners, Samuels conceded that indeed 10 minutes was too long. When the cross-examination team attempted to corroborate the statements of witness Cleveland Hudson to that of Deputy Director Samuels, Attorney Pieters reminded Commissioners that Hudson’s testimony was done “in-camera” [away from the public].At the afternoon session, Joan Ward-Mars, the Attorney associated with the Linden Legal Aid Centre who is representing two inmates, petitioned the Commission to have Deputy Director Samuels be recalled in-camera so that he could speak to statements which Hudson had made. These statements are at the moment classified as members of the media were disallowed from observing some of testimonies of prison officers.last_img

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