Attorney General and Minister of Home Affairs Adriel Brathwaite has disclosed that changes are being considered to the Prison Act so prison officers can be treated differently from other civil servants in certain circumstances.
Brathwaite revealed few details, but pointed to the disciplinary process as an example of areas that needed improvement.
He told local and regional judiciary and prison officials meeting at the Hilton Barbados Resort for the tenth annual Association of Caribbean Heads of Corrections and Prison Services (ACHCPS) conference that the process was too complicated and lengthy under the current legislation.
“You have a situation where if you have a disciplinary issue for example, you go through the same civil service processes, which means you can either take a year or two or three [or more],” Brathwaite said.
“The prison is too dynamic an environment to operate within that scenario . . . . I am not talking about disadvantaging the officers, I am talking in particular in the area of discipline to be able to be more responsive to the needs of the prison.”
During the three-day conference officials will discuss a range of issues relating to correctional facilities in the region and come up with possible solutions.
Brathwaite challenged the officers to propose best practices that could be included in the amendment and to help reform the present legislation and prison rules “to bring them more into line with what I believe are best practices”.
“On the other side of the coin, one of the things I lament about – and my friends at the prison please do not castigate me for this comment – is that we really need to move the prison in terms of the officers themselves into a different regime from the average civil servants,” Brathwaite stressed.