No charges filed as of press time
Within a five-day period prison staff have collected more than three pounds of ganja and four bottles of rum after the contraband was allegedly tossed over the prison’s walls.
Northward Prison’s Training and Information Manager Ricardo Lashley said, “…staff found on five occasions ganja thrown over the fence or hidden outside the perimeter totalling 3 pounds, 3 ounces and varying from 1.4 pounds to 4 ounces per find. These finds also led to the recovery of four mobile phones, four bottles of rum and a phone charger. The location and wrapping of these contraband would suggest that contraband is being thrown over the perimeter fence.
“Staff continue to find and intercept drugs destined for entry into the prison,” Mr. Lashley said. The contraband was found between 7 and 13 August.
He said, “The Prison Service is resolute in its attempt to thwart individuals who are making concerted efforts to get drugs in the establishment. These individuals must be reminded that they are putting themselves at risk, with the passage of legislation that allows for persons caught smuggling or attempting to smuggle contraband can face up to three years imprisonment and fine up to $15,000 or both. Attempts to smuggle drugs to prisoners only serve to further derail the lives of these individuals.”
A recommendation by prison director Dwight Scott and his executive board led to a bill to amend the Prisons Law to create the offence of smuggling and “incidental and connected purposes” earlier this year.
Previously, those caught taking contraband into the prison could be charged only with possession of the material in question, and that charge could only have been brought in instances where the items were illegal. In circumstances where the contraband was in the form of a cellphone or other items that may not have been classed as illegal in the law, the prison itself might have had to impose its own sanctions and punishment, such as terminating a visitor’s and/or prisoner’s privileges.
Under the new law, more clear terms for the word ‘smuggling’ have been inserted into the Prisons Law.
This states that, “Any person who a. brings throws or in any manner introduces or conveys into any prison; b. conveys to any prisoner while in custody outside of a prison; c. with the intent that it shall come into the possession of a prisoner, deposits outside of a prison; or d. carries out of any prison, an article or thing, unless he is authorized to do so by or under this law or by the director, commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine of $15,000 and to imprisonment not exceeding three years, or to both such fine and imprisonment.”
Eric Bush, deputy chief officer in the Portfolio of Internal and External Affairs, said, “The prison director, along with his Executive and the Portfolio, identified that there could be stronger laws and punishment for acts of taking any kind of contraband into the prison and the Governor in cabinet has also agreed with this.”
At the time, he said that lawmakers and officials were constantly looking for strategies and methods of prevention and that this was a more broad approach, which would cover all contraband and not just items that were classed as illegal in the law.
“Previously, someone taking drugs into the prison could only be charged with possession of those drugs, but now the Prisons Law speaks specifically to the entire act of seeking to put any item into the prison that should not be there,” said Mr. Bush, who added that some items are not illegal but are not allowed in a prison, such as cellphones and liquor. Mr. Lashley was unable to say whether any charges would be forthcoming in relation to the seizures and would not speculate about the why the amounts of weed were so large over a short period of time.