Defective cameras increase risks of jailbreak – prison officer

first_imgAs the inquiry into the riots at the Camp Street Prison continues, Commissioners heard on Tuesday thatPrison Officer Dekanna Benjamin taking the standdefective surveillance cameras at the penitentiary increase the risk of a jailbreak. Prison Officer Dekanna Benjamin in her testimony explained that surveillance equipment has been in a non-operational state for “three or four months”. She conceded that the non-functioning equipment did impact upon her work to some extent. The officer noted that she was however able to carry out her job “effectively”.Benjamin, who has been stationed in the Operations Room for over two years, told Commissioners of the sections which are currently without coverage, but the media was advised that this information must not be made public for security reasons. Apart from being responsible for the video surveillance, it was explained that the Operations Room has oversight for telephone switchboards and arms and ammunition.The officer who was stationed from the evening of March 2 into the morning of March 3 also told Commissioners of the prevailing challenges which may hinder the overall department. Benjamin testified that the Operations Room department is understaffed and would sometimes have only two officers monitoring all of the prison activities. Despite these many challenges, Officer Benjamin pledged that she will remain in the prison service.The Commissioner of Inquiry (CoI) also heard that there are no smoke detectors at the penitentiary. The Commission was previously told of contraband items like matches and lighters being in possession of the inmates.Fellow Prison Officer Esther Charles, who joined the prison service in June 1998, also took the stand at Tuesday’s CoI. She testified that Deputy Director of Prisons Gladwin Samuels and Director Carl Graham arrived at 10:55h and 08:05h respectively, but was unsure whether or not they had ever left the facilities.Charles also related that on March 3, she was the first officer to inform her colleagues of the fire which she testified started around 11:00h.The prison officer who has functioned in the Operations Room for some 10 years also explained that she had called the fire service and noted that she would also keep personal notes of times when events occur to maintain accuracy.When the officer referenced her notes from the day of the March 3 fire, it was revealed that before other joint services members were called, the fire service was called at 11:04h. This account was in contrast to that included in the evidence provided by the Guyana Fire Service on April 13 which stated that the report of fire report at the prisons on March 3 was received at 11:18h.At that time, in cross-examination, Attorney Glen Hanoman had postulated that a staff member attached to the Fire Service assisted in “drafting up the log book” for the purpose of bringing it to the Commission and noted that another log book exists for March 2 and March 3. Hanoman had raised suspicion since the Georgetown Fire Station’s log book started at the time of the riots.After a period of rioting, 17 inmates at the Camp Street facilities lost their lives. The hearings will resume this morning.last_img read more

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