An outspoken senator is demanding the resignation of Minister of Home Affairs Edmund Hinkson and Superintendent of Prisons Lieutenant Colonel John Nurse over the recent discovery of inmates on remand being lost in jail without having their day in court.
Opposition Senator Caswell Franklyn who is also industrial relations consultant to the Prison Officers’ Association of Barbados is livid that a person on remand should, in modern Barbados, be left to languish in jail for nearly ten years for a petty theft which attracts a sentence of no more than six months.
A week ago, it was revealed in the High Court that Winston Agard had been on remand for seven years without going to court.
Criminal attorney-at-law Angella Mitchell-Gittens, who has been fighting on behalf of some of those prisoners has told Barbados TODAY she was informed that there were close to 50 persons at HMP Dodds who had not appeared before the court for a prolonged period.
But yesterday Minister Hinkson suggested the numbers were considerably lower when he said that there is “less than a handful” of prisoners on remand at HMP Dodds who have not been to court in over two years.
Hinkson said that a list of prisoners on remand at the penal institution was vetted, revealing those numbers.
However, Senator Franklyn today insisted that the Minister was misleading the country.
“In any case, one, is one too many. We should not be behaving like a banana republic. Nobody should be lost in prison. All hell has broken loose up there [Dodds Prison]. All kind of things seem to be going wrong under him [Minister Hinkson]…and the Prime Minister should take away the rest of his portfolios let him go back doing what he was good at…being a successful criminal lawyer,” Senator Franklyn told Barbados TODAY this afternoon.
“In fact, they all should resign; Hinkson and the superintendent,” added the industrial relations consultant.
“Nobody should be lost in prison. A warrant is issued by a magistrate and it has a deadline on it. So when that deadline is gone you go and get the person to appear in court. I don’t know what he [superintendent] doing up there. He come and change up everything. John Nurse should resign,” the controversial Franklyn declared.
Meanwhile Minister Hinkson has described Agard’s situation as a “travesty”.
He said after it was highlighted he met with senior prison management, senior management of his ministry, as well as the chairperson of the Prisons Advisory Board, Queen’s Counsel Cicely Chase.
“There are, however, less than a handful of persons who have been on remand for more than two years without their cases being before the courts, and whose earlier sentences have recently expired, or who are not serving any sentence at the present time.”
The minister said those persons would be provided with the opportunity to come before the courts and plead guilty, or otherwise be given a trial hearing.
But Mitchell-Gittens said while she was relieved to hear that action was being taken, the numbers given by the Minister did not add up.
Barbados TODAY reached out to prison boss Nurse for a comment, but he declined saying that the Minister had already spoken to the matter.
Efforts to contact Hinkson this afternoon for a response to Franklyn’s call to resign proved futile.