Justice Minister Christlyn Moore said yesterday the one-man daring escape from the small island prison facility in Carrera on Sunday was more proof that the facility needed to be closed.
Moore was referring to an early Sunday morning prison break by John Pierre, 33, who sawed through the ventilation grill in his cell and escaped.
“This escape emphasises the challenges with Carrera,” Moore said in response to questions from the media after the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Canadian Correctional Service and the Trinidad and Tobago Prison Service at Tower C, International Financial Centre, Port of Spain, yesterday. The Canadian Correctional Service was represented by its Commissioner, Don Head.
Moore said the escape did not affect the plans to close the Carrera prison facility.
“It emphasises the risk Carrera poses as a penal institution. It really supports, in my view, the decision made by the Government to close the facility,” she said.
Commissioner of Prisons Martin Martinez, who was present at the signing, said a report on the escape was on his desk and he planned to read it as soon as he got back to his office. He said a photograph of the prisoner was made available to the media yesterday.
“He is still at large. I have had no reports of apprehension,” Martinez said.
With regard to the move from prison facility to correctional facility, Martinez said more discussion regarding leadership training for staff is necessary.
“We did discuss the issue of proper offender management system. We did discuss how corrective services in Canada rolled out their restorative justice mode and explained the challenges,” he said.
Both he and Moore said cellphone use in the prisons was among the challenges that they shared with Head.
“We discussed the cellphone challenge that we have in our jurisdiction and the need to input an inmate phone system but even with an inmate phone system, some challenges would arise,” Martinez said.
Moore added that in the discussions with Head, there were intermediary approaches to the ‘jammers and grabbers’ that collected data on mobile devices in or near prisons
“Cellphone dogs that are able to identify cellphones in prisons,” Moore said.
Head said there were many similarities in the challenges that both the Canadian and local system shared.
“There is a lot for us to learn from the Trinidad and Tobago Police Services. The country does not face any unique challenges in terms of corrective services,” Head said.