Prison boss pleased with his success: I did not falter

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Acting Commissioner of Prisons Deopersad Ramoutar – Photo by Roger Jacob

Acting Commissioner of Prisons Deopersad Ramoutar said some people would be happy to see him go while others would be sad but, either way, he was satisfied with what he was able to accomplish during his time as prisons commissioner.

He was appointed in an acting role in February 2022, when acting commissioner Dennis Pulchan went on pre-retirement leave. His last day will be June 5 when he will go on five months pre-retirement leave with his official retirement being on October 30.

Speaking to Newsday about his accomplishments at the TT Prison Service’s 82nd annual Sports and Family Day at the Prison Service Recreational Sports and Cultural Club in Arouca on June 1, Ramoutar said he had to change the culture of the Prison Service to focus more on rehabilitation.

“I’m making a bold statement but I would have achieved 100 per cent success in having the inmates where they should be in rehabilitation. They are very very receptive right now.”

He said most of the staff were on board with his decision and he cleared the way for others to follow.

“I’m a no-nonsense guy so I had no qualms in locking up crooked officers. I got a bit of push back from that. Both the good and crocked officers have their circles but the crocked officers are very active on social media so they would have created an impression that I was not doing a good job in the Prison Service. But, I, being who I am, I didn’t falter. I kept pushing on.”

He admitted there was a call within the prison service to boycott the sports day but said he did not believe it worked because of the number of people in attendance.

However, one officer said enough prison officers boycotted the sports that the ranks of the marching teams were filled with members of other arms of national security.

Despite this, Ramoutar said, “At the end of the day I think people would have realised that I had the Prison Service’s interest at heart and you have to make hard decisions. It makes you unpopular but it is the job and the cap that a leader has to wear.”

He said he still had “a lot of fight” in him and as an “expert” in conflict management and security, he would be engaging in voluntary work and would also be willing to serve anyone who wanted his skills and offered “a good package.”

During his address, he said the officers were working in a stressful environment which took a physical and mental toll on the officers and their families.

“We can rejuvenate when we socialise in the right environment. Our determination and our drive are renewed.”

The day of races and other sporting activities started with a March Past by retirees, the Maximum Security Prison, Golden Grove Prison, The Claxton Bay Correctional Facility, Remand Prison, Carrera Convict Prison, Tobago Prison, Port of Spain Prison, the programmes department, the administrative department, Golden Grove Women’s Prison, Eastern Correctional Rehabilitation Centre, Youth Transformation and Rehabilitation Centre, and Prisons Training College.

The participants marched and danced their way past National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds and Ramoutar, and performed mostly humorous skits to the delight of the watching crowd.