In serious allegations against the management of Her Majesty's Prison (HMP) about the treatment of inmates, Second District Representative in the Virgin Islands House of Assembly (HoA) Hon Melvin M. Turnbull says that on a recent visit to the Balsam Ghut facility, prisoners reported they were being tased in the head and face while being handcuffed.
Hon Turnbull made the revelation at the December 13, 2019, budget debates during the continuation of the Second Sitting of the Second Session of the Fourth House of Assembly (HoA).
"Listening to the concerns of the prisoners and Hon Smith [Neville A. Smith (AL)] and Hon Penn [Marlon A. Penn were there as well... we need to ensure, Mr Speaker, that yes they are incarcerated but we need to ensure that there is some guard watching the guard," Hon Turnbull told the House.
Hon Turnbull continued, "because the reports that I was made aware of, and we might have our own opinions... what we think about them or the crime that they may be incarcerated or even on remand for, but some of the instances that I was made aware of Mr Speaker it just can't be right that persons are being treated like that," he said.
HM Prison under Fire
Currently, HMP is being run by Superintendent Verne A. G. Garde of St Lucia. Over the 2019 year, the institution has seen several reports of inhumane treatment by prisoners, poor food and a recent alleged October jailbreak which was neither denied nor confirmed by the Superintendent.
According to Hon Turnbull, "When you [are] going [to] hear reports from three or four different inmates about persons being tased in their face and in their head, something is wrong."
Calls to the mobile telephone of Superintendent Mr Garde by Virgin Islands News Online (VINO) to respond to the allegations went unanswered.