Drug testing of 135 prison officers and high ranking officials of Her Majesty’s Prison Service, led by the Portfolio of Internal and External Affairs and the Health Services Authority over the course of last week has turned up all negative results.
Chief Officer in the Portfolio of Internal and External Affairs Eric Bush said he asked the Prisons’ Acting Director Daniel Graves to have his staff subject to drugs testing starting Monday, 20 February running through Friday 24 February in response to drugs being found in various high level quarters of the Northward prison facility.
Mr. Bush said he has always thought the best of the men and women of the prison service but explained, “I wanted to be confident in defending them and be able to know that when I am doing so, it is based upon facts.”
Mr. Bush also allowed himself to be tested during the exercise, which included staff from the Fairbanks women’s prison.
The tests were carried out by the HSA under the supervision of its Chief Officer Lizette Yearwood. Mr. Bush said this was done, as it could have easily been said that the prison service was conducting the tests on themselves.
Of eight officers, who did not participated in the testing, five were off Islands and three were sick, noted Mr. Bush, adding that they were sick or on leave before the testing began. He said those individuals would be tested upon returning to the Islands or from sick leave.
Members of the Department of Community Rehabilitant and its Director were also tested as part of the undertaking. All of those tests resulted in negative results.
On 10 February, 2012 four ounces of marijuana was found in the kitchen of the prison’s administrative office, where the director’s office is located at Her Majesty’s Prison at Northward, known as the “White House. Four days later Ganja was found again in the Shift Commander’s office at Her Majesty’s Prison Northward.
Last year, during just a five-day period, prison staff collected more than three pounds of ganja and four bottles of rum after the contraband was allegedly tossed over the prison’s walls.
At the time, Prison Training and Information Officer Ricardo Lashley 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.” Under the new law, more clear terms for the word ‘smuggling’ have been inserted into the Prisons Law.
It 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 authorised 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.”