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Issue hurting prison service; probe critical

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Prison officers Association has called on Government to ensure there is a probe of prison litigation issues which have been raised by former Solicitor General Eleanor Donaldson-Honeywell, saying the association had noticed this as far back as 2005 and reported it her office in 2011. Making the call yesterday was the association’s general secretary, Gerard Gordon, who said such allegations could tarnish the good name of the Prison Service. He said he was hopeful that Persad-Bissessar would heed the call for a full probe. “We are not cavemen walking around with clubs. We are professionals. We have been doing a tremendous job with the little that we have,” Gordon said. “The prison environment would lead to some level of confrontation, but people cannot use that to enrich themselves and this cannot be tolerated.” 


Before Donaldson-Honey resigned, Gordon said the association had a good relationship with her, adding that on many occasions there would be open and frank discussions. In an interview with a radio station, association president Ceron Richards also said association had suspicions about an alleged “business venture” aspect involving attorneys which had been happening over the years. “We saw it as a means of enriching people through the vulnerabilities of the prison service and we asked the then Solicitor General to intervene,” he said. He said the POA had consultations with the Solicitor General’s office as a means of educating officers on the role of the SG. He said Donaldson-Honeywell, at the 2011 meeting with the POA, said her office would treat with the situation through a mixture of different things.


“So we weren’t surprised at the contents of her letter on this to the Prime Minister. Rather than ‘closure’, we hope a thorough probe will be done to see if anyone is culpable and we’d like her to come forward and clear the air and the Attorney General also to do the same, since the situation is bad for the service’s image,” Richards said. He said because of this issue, officers were seen in a negative light and were now the subject of ridicule. “This situation must be stopped because it has the potential of undermining in a very serious way the image of the service.”
The T&T Guardian understands that the council of the Law Association discussed the matter during a 45-minute meeting yesterday.


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