Categorized | Local, News

Premier Romeo Visits H M Prison on day 1

By Warren Cassell

“When you strengthen the weakest link, you strengthen whole chain”

 Premier the Honourable Donaldson Romeo has expressed concern for the welfare of prisoners, incarcerated at Her Majesty’s Prison in Brades.

Mr. Romeo, who toured the prison on his first working day since taking the oath of Premier on Friday last, met and interacted with the inmates during his hour long stay.

H M Prison

H M Prison

This was the second humanitarian act, since assuming the premiership on Friday. The first took place on the same day he was sworn in, Mr. Romeo, delivered a wheel chair to paraplegic, James Slabbery Hogan in Cheapend in St. Peters.

During the tour the Honourable Premier was taken to the workshop where two inmates convicted of very serious crimes were working on crafts and other woodwork amidst dangerous tools. The Premiere took time to inquire about the adequacy of tools in the workshop. Acting Deputy Superintendent Mr. Rupert Harris informed the Premier that the workshop is still in need of some tools and that the public is open to volunteering their services to teach inmate thereby assisting in the prison’s rehabilitating efforts.

He also told the Premier revenue generated from items made by the prisoners was split between the Prison and the Prisoner 60/40 in favor of the prison and 70/30 in favor of the prisoner if the customer provides materials. The Deputy further outlined that the revenue a prisoner generates is deposited into an account belonging to the prison and is used by him for his use and benefit. It could also serve as readily available cash when he is released.

Speaking to the media following the tour of the prison on Monday, Mr. Romeo stated that his visit demonstrates that he is responsible for all persons on Montserrat no matter where they are. “My intention is to use my office to represent those who I notice have needs that have been ignored for many, many years,” he said.

The Premier also indicated his concern about the status of one particular prisoner who is “on Queen’s pleasure” for 17 years or so. “I know him well, he’s a great musician, composer and singer…It really hurts me to know that that he needs help and in 14 years that I’ve known him there’s been nothing to help him improve and I am hoping that somebody is going to do something about this,” Romeo said.

“It’s not to address it for him just for him but for the prison officers as well who are not trained to deal with people who are mentally challenged. …It’s going to be costly to address the needs of just a few but no matter how few we should not allow a man to rot or deteriorate and suffer because we cant find sufficient funds to treat him in a humane way,” he continued.

The new Premier concluded, “That’s one of the main reasons I’ve come today because I think that when you bring hope to a man in the most hopeless situation, you bring hope to the whole country. When you strengthen the weakest link, you strengthen whole chain.”

TMR learnt that the inmate who is there “at the Queen’s pleasure” has been there for over 15 years despite a Privy Council’s ruling in the case of Brown v. R (1999) 54 WIR where the Privy Council held that the detention during the “Queen’s Pleasure” was not a life sentence but rather a wholly discretionary sentence. The kind of punishment selected the court held was an integral part of the administration of justice and should not be committed to the hands of the executive of which the Governor General or Governor is a part but rather, punishment should be a matter solely for the courts. Countries such as Antigua & Barbuda has taken steps to amend their legislation to read “…at the Court’s pleasure”.

While the Premier did not say so, his immediate action to visit the prison seemed to have echoed the sentiments of the late Nelson Mandela who said, “…no one truly knows a nation until one has been inside the jails. A nation should not be judged by how it treats its highest citizens, but its lowest ones.”

If that is the case, the Premier’s intentions bode well for Montserrat.

 

 

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A Moment with the Registrar of Lands

By Warren Cassell

“When you strengthen the weakest link, you strengthen whole chain”

 Premier the Honourable Donaldson Romeo has expressed concern for the welfare of prisoners, incarcerated at Her Majesty’s Prison in Brades.

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Mr. Romeo, who toured the prison on his first working day since taking the oath of Premier on Friday last, met and interacted with the inmates during his hour long stay.

H M Prison

H M Prison

This was the second humanitarian act, since assuming the premiership on Friday. The first took place on the same day he was sworn in, Mr. Romeo, delivered a wheel chair to paraplegic, James Slabbery Hogan in Cheapend in St. Peters.

During the tour the Honourable Premier was taken to the workshop where two inmates convicted of very serious crimes were working on crafts and other woodwork amidst dangerous tools. The Premiere took time to inquire about the adequacy of tools in the workshop. Acting Deputy Superintendent Mr. Rupert Harris informed the Premier that the workshop is still in need of some tools and that the public is open to volunteering their services to teach inmate thereby assisting in the prison’s rehabilitating efforts.

He also told the Premier revenue generated from items made by the prisoners was split between the Prison and the Prisoner 60/40 in favor of the prison and 70/30 in favor of the prisoner if the customer provides materials. The Deputy further outlined that the revenue a prisoner generates is deposited into an account belonging to the prison and is used by him for his use and benefit. It could also serve as readily available cash when he is released.

Speaking to the media following the tour of the prison on Monday, Mr. Romeo stated that his visit demonstrates that he is responsible for all persons on Montserrat no matter where they are. “My intention is to use my office to represent those who I notice have needs that have been ignored for many, many years,” he said.

The Premier also indicated his concern about the status of one particular prisoner who is “on Queen’s pleasure” for 17 years or so. “I know him well, he’s a great musician, composer and singer…It really hurts me to know that that he needs help and in 14 years that I’ve known him there’s been nothing to help him improve and I am hoping that somebody is going to do something about this,” Romeo said.

“It’s not to address it for him just for him but for the prison officers as well who are not trained to deal with people who are mentally challenged. …It’s going to be costly to address the needs of just a few but no matter how few we should not allow a man to rot or deteriorate and suffer because we cant find sufficient funds to treat him in a humane way,” he continued.

The new Premier concluded, “That’s one of the main reasons I’ve come today because I think that when you bring hope to a man in the most hopeless situation, you bring hope to the whole country. When you strengthen the weakest link, you strengthen whole chain.”

TMR learnt that the inmate who is there “at the Queen’s pleasure” has been there for over 15 years despite a Privy Council’s ruling in the case of Brown v. R (1999) 54 WIR where the Privy Council held that the detention during the “Queen’s Pleasure” was not a life sentence but rather a wholly discretionary sentence. The kind of punishment selected the court held was an integral part of the administration of justice and should not be committed to the hands of the executive of which the Governor General or Governor is a part but rather, punishment should be a matter solely for the courts. Countries such as Antigua & Barbuda has taken steps to amend their legislation to read “…at the Court’s pleasure”.

While the Premier did not say so, his immediate action to visit the prison seemed to have echoed the sentiments of the late Nelson Mandela who said, “…no one truly knows a nation until one has been inside the jails. A nation should not be judged by how it treats its highest citizens, but its lowest ones.”

If that is the case, the Premier’s intentions bode well for Montserrat.