Pubdate: Wed, 27 Mar 2002
Source: Royal Gazette, The (Bermuda)
Contact:  2002 The Royal Gazette Ltd.
Author: Matthew Taylor


Drugs are being taken by up to 70 percent of prison farm inmates, an 
officer has alleged.

He said heroin and cocaine was being smuggled in by work release inmates at 
the St. George's facility and hard-pressed officers did not have the 
equipment to nail the culprits.

Yesterday, Home Affairs Minister Terry Lister said dog handlers would be 
brought in within the next few weeks to take a bite out of the problem. He 
told The Royal Gazette: "The prison farm has a greater problem than 
Westgate because the men are out everyday.

"But with the canine unit, which will be out within the next few weeks, 
this will grind to a screaming halt."

Some officers will be trained to handle the dogs, and he said some work 
would be put out to tender.

However, the Minister said there was no timetable for the introduction of 
an ion scanner at the prison farm. The machine, which picks up all traces 
of drugs, is already in use at Westgate.

The prison officer, who wished to remain anonymous, said the current 
situation made a mockery of the Government's efforts to rehabilitate inmates.

He said some inmates had to be left alone because they were becoming 
aggressive under the influence of drugs or during withdrawal.

"When they can't get it they start stealing from each other. There's 
absolute craziness going on."

He said he wanted the situation to be sorted out "before one of my 
colleagues is taken out."

"You can walk round Court Street, it ain't much different, it's a real 
shame it's got out of hand.

"I would say 60 to 70 percent of the prisoners at the farm are using drugs."

He said crack and heroin are the main problems because they are easier to 
smuggle than marijuana.

Heroin, in quarter-inch foil wraps, was hard to locate, even in strip 
searches and some officers were not trained to spot if inmates were high 
after coming back from work release, said the officer.

"They are such little packets and they spread them out. We need an ion 
scanner... We don't have dogs. Let's get the ball rolling, we need the 
equipment to deal with this situation.

"We have put in complaints for the past couple of years about it but 
nothing has been done."

The officer said he hoped incoming Commissioner John Prescod would get to 
grips with the problem.

Urine tests were picking up users among the work release inmates and many 
were being sent back to Westgate several times claimed the source.

He said: "It's a waste of taxpayers money."

He said some work release prisoners were accessing their pay cheques to buy 
drugs because they were hiding some of their earnings - a claim Acting 
Prisons Commission Edwin Wilson denied.

Mr. Wilson said he was satisfied the full amount that prisoners were 
earning was known to the prison authorities.

"I know they are paid the amount they are required on time. The money isn't 
paid to them, it's paid to the prison officer in charge of them."

Asked about prison farm inmates being sent back to Westgate after failing 
drugs tests Mr. Wilson said: "We have recidivism, they are inmates, that's 
why they are there. We have programmes to try to arrest that."

Mr. Lister said the prison service was not going to give up on inmates who 
blew their chances by taking drugs.

He said: "The prison service is there to rebuild and rehabilitate. It's not 
to throw them away.

"If a man keeps failing, he loses privileges and time, but we are not going 
to stop." 
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