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Out of evil cometh what?

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Absolutely no statistics were presented but acting Commissioner of Prisons William Alexander seems to believe that prison rape is down because of overcrowding. According to him, “Out of evil cometh good...because of reduces it because there are more persons in the cell and somebody would speak up. As opposed to two or three persons in a cell it can more easily occur.”

The logic behind this local theory—because all it can be is a theory in the absence of data—is perplexing. Studies around the world suggest the polar opposite. Actual data from the US Department of Justice, Human Rights Watch, Just Detention International and several others indicate that overcrowding is a significant contributor to sexual abuse in prison.

Perhaps trends are different in this country’s prisons, but we won’t know because the acting Commissioner failed to present data to back up his dubious claim.

Any process of reasoning which remotely suggests that overcrowding is in some way a deterrent to assault, is startling. No one convicted of a crime is entitled to five-star comfort, but to cite overcrowding as a deterrent to rape is incomprehensible. To make the statement while addressing a Joint Select Committee of Parliament on Human Rights is illogical.

An immigrant’s story

The Guardian’s story this week of a young Jamaican mother of four living in Trinidad, working over 12 hours a day and several jobs to earn enough to provide for her family back in Jamaica is not unique. The perception of immigrants in this country has been unfavourable at times, but the reality is that many who come here are simply hoping to afford a better way of life.

The Jamaican national told the Guardian she had “found many Trinidadians who don’t want to do certain jobs because they feel that is beneath them”. The narrative isn’t new.

While this woman has formal training as a nurse, she has worked as a housekeeper, security guard and other back room clerical jobs to earn every dollar she can. She is treated poorly by many and she is also paid less because she is a foreigner. There are thousands of stories like hers in T&T. The Guardian will continue to tell their stories because we must rethink how we treat immigrants and neighbours, especially when there is a need.

Work at last at Maracas Beach

Work is proceeding at last on the long-stalled Maracas Beach upgrade. Now that it is progressing, seemingly apace, it seems so simple—drainage, parking, possibly an improved water treatment plant. But the public will not soon forget the delays that spanned three administrations and left beachgoers shaking their heads in dismay as they parked in what had essentially become an extension of the swamp.


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