The conditions at the Port of Spain prison have been reported to the Occupational Health and Safety Agency OHSA OHSA for alleged violations and poor working conditions by the Prisons Officers Association. The Association (POA) has written to the Occupational Safety and Health Agency (OSHA) requesting that it visit the Port of Spain prison, on Frederick Street, to view the conditions under which officers are made and inmates are required to live. The POA says it is not suitable for human occupation as it poses a threat to the safety and security of officers as well as prisoners.
The letter was issued to OSHA chief inspector Franz Brizbane and carbon copied to National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds, Prisons Commissioner Deopersad Ramoutar, and Permanent Secretary in the National Security Ministry Gary Joseph on Friday. In the letter, the POA said while it had made previous complaints over the conditions at the prison, so far their concerns have not been addressed.
The damming letter claimed that the prison administration has also not been providing adequate food to prisoners resulting in officers being accused by prisoners of stealing their food which has created significant tension between officers and inmates increasing safety threats in the institution. In also said in many cases, special diets are not being provided in (the) manner ordered by the doctor. The letter outlined that the condition of the toilet and bathroom facilities in the airing yard are also inadequate and this causes tension with officers who are trying to get an airing of the inmates done in the time they have to do so. The airing yard is also usually short-staffed and there is hardly ever the required prisoner-to-prison officer ratio, also in violation of established safety standards. The association also spoke about the washroom facilities for officers which were dilapidated, dirty and unfit for human use. Several of the toilets do not have toilet seats and the supply of water to refill the tanks is not constant.
The POA gave the prison authority seven days of it being received for a response to chart a way forward to bring some relief to the members of the association.