Program shutdowns loom at Point Blanche prison

POSTED: 06/7/12 1:00 PM

St. Maarten – Justice Minister Roland Duncan has promised to systematically shut down programs in the prison if the ongoing strike led by the Point Blanche Inmates Association continues. He also announced on Wednesday that he plans to file a counter-claim against the association during a hearing on Friday. Duncan has also flatly refused to negotiate with the inmates association and reiterated that the strike the association is leading is illegal.
“They are deliberately disrupting, they are throwing food away and they took keys from a guard. That is pure illegal action,” Duncan said.
One of the first work programs that could be shut down is the kitchen. Twelve people staff the kitchen (nine detainees and three staffers from outside). The nine inmates are participating in the strike and it is impossible for the three private citizens to feed the 200 people they are required to provide for daily.
“So I’ve instructed the prison director (Rudsel Ricardo) to hire more staff so the prisoners don’t have to be bothered,” Duncan said.
The minister said also he’ll shut down the tailoring work program if the prisoners don’t meet a target date for delivering uniforms that have been ordered. Visits from family members may also be halted in the near future if the strike continues and order cannot be maintained.
“If they strike and threaten people’s lives, I will not expose people’s lives to danger,” Duncan said.
While the minister will not personally negotiate with the prisoners, he won’t stand in the way of the prison director exercising his right and duty to talk to the inmates.

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