Opinion: The prison’s responsibility

POSTED: 10/26/11 11:38 AM

The apparent suicide of Robert Reid in the Pointe Blanche prison once again puts the spotlight on the way the facility looks after its inmates.

We are not making a moral argument on behalf of Reid, who was detained on suspicion that he killed his 13-year old-daughter Tiffany in September, because that is beside the point.

Without knowing the exact details of the case, we get a pretty clear picture of the emotional side of it.

A 13-year-old girl is strangled and her body is burnt. The father is found with burn marks, so he gets himself arrested as the main (if not the only) suspect in his daughter’s death.

It is hard to imagine what would drive a father to strangle his daughter, let alone burn her body after the fact, but one thing is certain: the man was in a highly unstable emotional state.

In prison he was probably not everybody’s darling. Child-murderers (even suspects, like Reid) are low on the criminal totem pole.

So the guy had a tough time behind bars. He did not want to cooperate with the investigation and he was basically looking at the big black hole that represented his foreseeable future.

Without knowing any further details, we figure that such an inmate ought to be on suicide watch. The press release from the prison did not mention anything about such precautions, therefore we take it that nobody even though about extra supervision for the suspect.

And mind you, at the moment we do not even know whether Reid committed suicide, or that somebody helped him knot the sheets. That remains to be seen.

On internet sites, the reactions of readers to Reid’s death have been pretty cruel, and we do not feel the need to quote from them. But these reactions ignore the prison’s responsibility for the well-being of its inmates.

After the incident with Calniff Williams, who was in court last week for throwing a cup of hot tea in the face of his tormentor Florentine Jerome, Reid’s death behind bars is a second scratch on the prison’s reputation.



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