[UPDATED] Prisons Commissioner: No evidence linking prison officer’s murder to job

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Commissioner of Prisons Deopersad Ramoutar. – File photo by Roger Jacob

Prisons Commissioner Deopersad Ramoutar says there is no evidence to suggest the death of prison officer Kendell Smith was linked to the installation of jammers in the Maximum Security Prison.

His comment comes after the general secretary of the Prisons Officers’ Association Lester Logie suggested prisoners’ inability to communicate with their families led to Smith’s death.

Smith, 36, was shot dead while at Samaroo Village, in Arima on January 11, around 6.20 pm.

Logie, in an Instagram video on Friday, said the state installed cellphone jammers at the Maximum Security Prison last year and since then prison officers’ lives have been under threat.

He said this is because the phones for the inmates to speak to their families are not working, leaving prisoners upset.

“Prison officers should not be dying because the state implemented jammers in the prison.”

“That is a standard thing that has been implemented throughout the world, and we should not be dying for that,” he added.

Logie claimed prison officers do not control the jammers and called on National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds to implement the phone system so that officers’ lives will not be under threat.

He said the phones will be monitored at all the prison facilities.

However, Ramoutar in a statement, said Logie’s call for phones to be installed in the prison for the inmates is on the agenda.

He suggested Logie was ignorant about the operations of the Prison Service and its plans for the way forward as he “works nowhere near the administration.”

Ramoutar said there is no information from the police or any other intelligence agency which suggested that Smith’s murder was linked to his job.

He said the investigation is ongoing and urged prison officers “to continue to stand firm.”

Logie said: “Officers are not dying in prison. They are dying on the outside, like the regular public. What solutions are in place to deal with the high incidence of murders? They must set the policy. And whatever policy they have in place is not working. So the minister’s tenure should be reviewed and we should be seeing some positive results.”

But Ramoutar came to Hinds’ defence, describing Logie’s comments as an outrageous attack and questioned whether Logie was speaking for the Prison Officers Association or himself.

Ramoutar said the Prison Service has received “admirable and unsurmountable support” from the Ministry of National Security in his (Ramoutar’s) time at the helm.

“I must admit that we have not received all that is needed, but it is understandable given the limited resources available in the economic market,” he said.

He also addressed Logie’s call for prison officers to be armed while off duty and for Hinds to provide another solution if he is not willing to allow this.

Ramoutar noted in his statement that Smith had a Firearm Users Licence at the time of his death.

This story has been adjusted to include additional details. See original post below.

PRISONS Commissioner Deopersad Ramoutar says there is no evidence to suggest the murder of prison officer Kendell Smith, 36, was linked to the installation of cellphone jammers in the Maximum Security Prison, in Arouca.

His comment comes after the general secretary of the Prisons Officers’ Association Lester Logie suggested prisoners’ inability to communicate with their families via phones led to Smith’s death.

Speaking during an Instagram video on January 12, Logie said, “Prison officers should not be dying because the state implemented jammers in the prison.”

However, Ramoutar in a statement in response to Logie said there is no information from the police or any other intelligence agency which suggested that Smith’s murder was linked to his job.

Smith was shot dead while at Samaroo Village, Arima on Thursday at around 6.20 pm.

Ramoutar said the investigation is ongoing and urged prison officers “to continue to stand firm.”