TCI News

Three-hour riot at HMP in Grand Turk, new Superintendent doused by inmates

Grand Turk, January 24, 2019 – Turks and Caicos – Mere hours after emergency funding was approved by the Turks and Caicos Islands Cabinet for Her Majesty’s Prison, a riot broke out.  Inmates awaiting trial rebelled, reportedly because they were once again denied their day in court.

The melee, which happened today, is subsided now, Magnetic Media understands, but it raged on for three hours.  Rocks were thrown, pelting prison guards; security cameras were destroyed; buckets of ‘dirty’ water were dumped onto both the Superintendent and his Deputy, and at least one prison guard had to be taken to hospital for medical care.

With complete disregard for the beckoning of authorities, the riot grew from a small outbreak of retaliation by a group which had just learned that their court appearance was delayed, to widespread unrest.  Inmates are furious at the slow progress of trials, which they are constitutionally entitled to having as quickly as possible.

No courthouse in Grand Turk.  No airline tickets arranged for travel to court in Providenciales.  And lately, complaints that the funds usually given to inmates at the conclusion of their prison time to assist re-entry to society, has been non-existent.

Overcrowding, dilapidation of the facility and instability in leadership are serious problems for Her Majesty’s Prison.

In 2017, HMP suffered both arson and severe hurricane damage; repairs have not yet started.  Government has earmarked money to rebuild the compound, but the infamously snail’s pace of the procurement process is certain to dash any hope of an immediate turn-around – physically – for the prison.

A new superintendent arrived in December, his name:  Grahame Hawkings.  Superintendent Hawkings is the third man brought in for the job in just two years.

Cabinet on Tuesday, “Approved a request for additional funding for the Prison from the Contingency Fund for the amount of $120,000 for rations and prisoner discharge allowances.”

Minister of Home Affairs, Delroy Williams said there was a serious misunderstanding which led to the riot.  To our inquiry, Minister Williams also said, “It’s under control.”

 

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