Inspector CCN co-host of TV6’s Beyond the Tape programme, and without getting the full facts, made certain allegations against the Prisons Service in his programme last Friday.
In the programme, Alexander said that a man “convicted and serving time” for murder, was seen in a bank in San Fernando transacting business as a normal customer.
Thanks to an ex-con who knew the “murderer”, Alexander said a photograph was taken of a prisons vehicle who brought the “murderer” to the bank to transact business. Alexander went as far to say that people in the bank fainted when they came face to face with the murderer.
Well the Prisons Service has lashed back. In a media statement issued late Saturday, the Prisons Service issued the following:
“The Trinidad and Tobago Prison Service condemns as reckless, irresponsible, ill-informed, ill-intentioned and malicious, the allegations and insinuations being perpetrated against the Prisons Service and members of our hard working, dedicated and professional staff by Inspector Roger Alexander on the Beyond The Tape Programme; aired on CCN TV6 on Friday, November 25, 2016.
We wish to advise Mr. Alexander that while he may have access to air time on a nationally televised programme and the enshrined right to freedom of speech, thought and the expression of those thoughts, he also has a moral and ethical responsibility as a representative of the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service and a media practitioner; to honesty, integrity, professionalism, truth and fairness in the content of his programming; all of which eluded him in his presentation yesterday as he sought to sensationalize a very serious issue in order to improve his ratings and damage the image of the Prisons Service.
His senseless utterances and ramblings on the show only displayed an ignorance of the facts, and his lack of appreciation and understanding for the operations of the Prisons Service and our mandate to build a prison system that does not weigh offenders down so heavily that they cannot achieve their full potential.
The Prisons Service unreservedly refutes claims by Mr. Alexander that the information and photograph shared on the programme was supplied to him by an ex-offender who was at the bank at the time and recognized the prisoner in question.
THESE ARE THE FACTS:
An individual who was remanded into prison custody since 2009 charged
for the alleged murder of his late wife was granted approval to go to the First Citizens Bank in San Fernando to sign over his bank account into the care of his sister.
This approval was granted after a careful assessment was done and it was determined that based on the outcomes of several interventions, this inmate posed no threat to society by being at the bank.
While in prison custody the inmate’s Drivers Permit, National Identification Card and Bank Card expired. These circumstances made funding inaccessible and difficult for the care of his young son and legal fees for his defence; since the half of his salary which he receives, goes into his bank account at the bank he visited.
For the past two years Prisons Authorities through our welfare department has been working diligently with this particular inmate and his relatives to resolve this matter. Prior to his visit to the bank, and through our efforts he was successful in getting a new Drivers Permit, National Identification Card and Bank Card. In efforts to bring a long term solution to this issue he had to go to the bank to sign the relevant documents which gave total control of his bank account to his sister.
His visit to the bank yesterday was planned and executed by the Prisons Welfare Department in conjunction with our operations department and bank security. The inmate was accompanied by a welfare officer and escorted by covertly armed members of staff in civilian wear. Being a remanded prisoner he was also in civilian wear.
In our efforts to eliminate the threat of fear, anxiety and intimidation to members of the public and other customers at the bank the inmate was allowed to enter the bank in a closely supervised and monitored operation without handcuffs.
Upon entering the bank and on his way to a cordoned off area at the counter to complete the transaction he observed the parents of his deceased wife also at the bank and immediately drew this to the attention of the escorting officers.
The father-in- law of the inmate also observed the prisoner in the bank and became visibly concerned and expressed his sentiments to prison personnel who attempted to allay any fears which he may have had. The father-in- law then proceeded to the outside of the bank where he took pictures of the Prisons vehicle which was waiting to take the prisoner back to the prison.
The transaction was completed in the shortest possible time and the
inmate was returned to the safe, secure and humane conditions at the Maximum Security Prison.
These types of arrangements are not unique to this particular inmate. As the country embraces the restorative justice philosophy and moves aggressively to prepare offenders for re-entry into society, inmates are granted approval on a regular basis to attend to a host of issues, including the renewal of passports, drivers permits, national identification cards, bank cards, faith based events, community outreach programmes, mentoring initiatives, sport related training,educational and correctional programmes and the viewing of the remains of deceased relatives at funeral homes.