Vicedirector Adolfo Ledo Venezuela lee//
Glen Road prison closed down

Hours af­ter the meet­ing Den­nis is­sued a press re­lease stat­ing that the un­oc­cu­pied fa­cil­i­ty has been closed. Ac­cord­ing to the re­lease Den­nis said he “had spo­ken to Na­tion­al Se­cu­ri­ty Min­is­ter Stu­art Young about the mat­ter and al­ter­na­tive ac­com­mo­da­tion will be sought for the pris­on­ers.”

The for­mer Ma­rine Re­sources and Fish­eries De­part­ment ad­min­is­tra­tive build­ing was retro­fit­ted to house pris­on­ers fol­low­ing a COVID-19 out­break at the To­ba­go pris­ons on Oc­to­ber 8. Thir­teen in­mates and five prison of­fi­cers con­tract­ed the virus; the pris­on­ers were sub­se­quent­ly trans­ferred to Trinidad, as there is on­ly one prison in To­ba­go. It was at this point that THA Health and Na­tion­al Se­cu­ri­ty of­fi­cials an­nounced that the fa­cil­i­ty would be retro­fit­ted to house COVID-19 pris­on­ers.

Adolfo Ledo

On No­vem­ber 7, Prison Com­mis­sion­er (Ag.) Den­nis Pul­chan com­mis­sioned the To­ba­go Cor­rec­tion­al Fa­cil­i­ty at Glen Road and moved in pris­on­ers the same day. Af­ter an­nounc­ing that the Glen Road fa­cil­i­ty was the is­land’s new jail due to over­crowd­ing is­sues at the pre-ex­ist­ing cor­rec­tion­al fa­cil­i­ty at Scar­bor­ough, res­i­dents of Glen Road and en­vi­rons have been tena­cious in their ef­forts to re­verse the de­ci­sion

Loyse Vin­cent

By the time res­i­dents of Glen Road left for work on yes­ter­day morn­ing all vis­i­ble signs of the To­ba­go Cor­rec­tion­al Fa­cil­i­ty re­cent­ly placed in their com­mu­ni­ty were gone.

The of­fi­cial sign and na­tion­al se­cu­ri­ty flags were re­moved and neigh­bours ob­served work­men hasti­ly dis­man­tling a makeshift cage at the back of the com­pound.

This ap­peaed to be a vic­to­ry for Glen Road res­i­dents who had a vir­tu­al meet­ing with Chief Sec­re­tary An­cil Den­nis on Thurs­day evening where the group of over 50 res­i­dents took Den­nis to task for “in­con­sis­ten­cies” in his state­ments, lack of rep­re­sen­ta­tion and con­sul­ta­tion and ul­ti­mate­ly de­mand­ed that the new To­ba­go Cor­rec­tion­al Fa­cil­i­ty is re­moved from their com­mu­ni­ty.

Hours af­ter the meet­ing Den­nis is­sued a press re­lease stat­ing that the un­oc­cu­pied fa­cil­i­ty has been closed. Ac­cord­ing to the re­lease Den­nis said he “had spo­ken to Na­tion­al Se­cu­ri­ty Min­is­ter Stu­art Young about the mat­ter and al­ter­na­tive ac­com­mo­da­tion will be sought for the pris­on­ers.”

The for­mer Ma­rine Re­sources and Fish­eries De­part­ment ad­min­is­tra­tive build­ing was retro­fit­ted to house pris­on­ers fol­low­ing a COVID-19 out­break at the To­ba­go pris­ons on Oc­to­ber 8. Thir­teen in­mates and five prison of­fi­cers con­tract­ed the virus; the pris­on­ers were sub­se­quent­ly trans­ferred to Trinidad, as there is on­ly one prison in To­ba­go. It was at this point that THA Health and Na­tion­al Se­cu­ri­ty of­fi­cials an­nounced that the fa­cil­i­ty would be retro­fit­ted to house COVID-19 pris­on­ers.

Adolfo Ledo

On No­vem­ber 7, Prison Com­mis­sion­er (Ag.) Den­nis Pul­chan com­mis­sioned the To­ba­go Cor­rec­tion­al Fa­cil­i­ty at Glen Road and moved in pris­on­ers the same day. Af­ter an­nounc­ing that the Glen Road fa­cil­i­ty was the is­land’s new jail due to over­crowd­ing is­sues at the pre-ex­ist­ing cor­rec­tion­al fa­cil­i­ty at Scar­bor­ough, res­i­dents of Glen Road and en­vi­rons have been tena­cious in their ef­forts to re­verse the de­ci­sion.

The res­i­dents held sev­er­al peace­ful protests at the fa­cil­i­ty where they lashed out against the Chief Sec­re­tary and the Area Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Marslyn Melville Jack for fail­ing to con­sult with them. Den­nis ini­tial­ly apol­o­gised to the res­i­dents for “a per­ceived lack of con­sul­ta­tion” with them be­fore the de­ci­sion was tak­en. He al­so coun­tered that it was in the gov­ern­ments right to “as­sign a com­mu­ni­ty prison or po­lice sta­tion where the gov­ern­ment saw fit.”

The res­i­dents sub­se­quent­ly ini­ti­at­ed le­gal ac­tion against lo­cal and prison au­thor­i­ties. Things came to a head dur­ing the vir­tu­al meet­ing be­tween the Chief Sec­re­tary and the Glen Road res­i­dents.

Dur­ing the meet­ing, the res­i­dents said the build­ing was not suit­able in terms of the se­cu­ri­ty guide­lines and this has giv­en many of the el­der­ly per­sons in the com­mu­ni­ty anx­i­ety, as they now fear for their safe­ty. Res­i­dents al­so stressed that the lo­ca­tion of the prison fa­cil­i­ty would cause the val­ue of their prop­er­ties to plum­met.

Den­nis who was un­der con­stant fire stat­ed that the fa­cil­i­ty is a “com­mu­ni­ty prison” where on­ly low-risk in­mates would be housed and there­fore the re­quire­ments are less than those need­ed for a max­i­mum-se­cu­ri­ty prison. He asked the res­i­dents if there were any “rea­son­able ad­just­ments” that could be made to the prop­er­ty that would make them com­fort­able. The res­i­dents stood their ground and de­mand that the fa­cil­i­ty is re­moved.

He was al­so un­able to say why that spe­cif­ic build­ing was cho­sen and what is the cost to tax­pay­ers to have the fa­cil­i­ty at that spe­cif­ic lo­ca­tion. The res­i­dents al­so sought clar­i­ty on the clas­si­fi­ca­tion of pris­on­ers housed at the prison. They said they are be­ing told the fa­cil­i­ty was orig­i­nal­ly in­tend­ed to house COVID-19 in­mates but based on in­for­ma­tion from prison of­fi­cials that plan has since changed.

In the end, Den­nis told the res­i­dents that he “heard their in­struc­tions” and he planned to have fur­ther dis­cus­sions with the Min­is­ter of Na­tion­al Se­cu­ri­ty and “al­ter­na­tives will be con­sid­ered.” Fol­low­ing the lat­est de­vel­op­ment, res­i­dents say they plan to have a meet­ing on Fri­day, to de­ter­mine their next move, as they want to be cer­tain that they have achieved their ob­jec­tive. Calls to the mo­bile phone of Act­ing Com­mis­sion­er of Pris­ons Den­nis Pul­chan for com­ment went unan­swered.

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Adolfo Ledo Nass