With violence on the rise at Saint Lucia’s lone penal facility, which last week resulted in the deaths of two inmates, staff at the facility has been promised government’s full assistance to operate at its optimal level.
The prison, over the past several years, has been plagued with reports of gang violence. However, last week the situation escalated first with the stabbing of Noah Peter, 21. He died last Saturday due to the seriousness of his injuries. Peter had been listed as critical and had been admitted in Intensive Care Unit at the Saint Jude Hospital, Vieux Fort.
Peter was born on March 11, 2000. He hailed from the community of Morne Du Don and had been on remand for the offense of stealing. The matter is now within the jurisdiction of the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force.
Two inmates are assisting police investigators in relation to Peter’s death. Police are also investigating two other stabbing incidents at the prison. Shodeus Clement and Jason Polius were reportedly stabbed at BCF last Saturday. They were both treated at the Dennery hospital and transported back to the correctional facility.
Also last week came shocking news out of the facility of the death of 45-year-old Kelvin Wilson found in a cell lying in his own blood. He was said to be mentally ill by management at the correctional facility. This incident is also the subject of a police investigation.
This recent surge in violence at the prison has been attributed to gangs operating within the facility.
Hilary Herman, Director of the Bordelais Correctional Facility (BCF) Friday told reporters that gangs are a “real problem” for staff at the facility.
“Every gang in Saint Lucia is represented here at the facility. (They) have issues from outside and they bring those issues inside and there are also issues that are generated from inside which we have to deal with. The gang problem is a real problem that we have to deal with on a daily basis,” he said.
Herman also spoke about the size of the prison saying it too can be an issue, however, he stated that the BCF is doing the best it can under the circumstances.
“As you know most of our inmates are not choir boys so it’s very challenging for us to keep them apart. We have limited space so we do the best that we can,” Herman said.
Regarding last week’s incidents at the prison, Herman said, “Of course in those instances no one sees anything (and) no one hears anything; this is the norm. We have to allow Major Crime to do their thing and we will do our own investigation and come up with a rational conclusion.”
Minister for Home Affairs Dr. Virginia Albert-Poyotte who visited the prison last Friday vowed to assist the facility saying “I will put the best foot forward, I will put my voice and I will articulate the concerns of Bordelais as well as getting the government to respond to their urgent needs.”
“We have some issues that are challenging here. I cannot guarantee that (they) will be resolved overnight but with the will and commitment of government we are going to address a number of issues, especially issues relating to human resource management and infrastructural facilities here,” the Minister said.
Albert-Poyotte spoke about reducing recidivism at the prison noting that there are preventative measures which if embarked upon will see this happen.
“How can we reduce the number of persons that are admitted at Bordelais? I think this is one of our major tasks….” Albert-Poyotte said.