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Warders could be fired for alleged prison recordings

Published:Thursday | March 2, 2017 | 12:00 AMEdmond Campbell
Ina Hunter

Commissioner of the Department of Correctional Services, Ina Hunter says while investigation continue into allegations that convicted entertainer Vybz Kartel is illegally recording music in prison, correctional officers who fail polygraph tests in relation to the matter could be sacked from the department.

On Monday, Chairman of the Jamaica Federations of Corrections, Arlington Turner told Radio Jamaica that Hunter blundered in her handling of the production of music by incarcerated persons, especially dancehall artiste Kartel.

However, in an interview with Hunter on Tuesday, the corrections boss dismissed claims by Turner that she had knowledge that the controversial artiste was recording songs in contravention of the regulations. "I can't allow what I don't know happening in terms of concrete evidence," she said.

Hunter said that at the end of the probe said she will reveal her findings to the public.

"We have speculations and there are suggestions that it could be happening but in terms of pinning persons down, having concrete evidence, we don't," she insisted.

On Tuesday, State Minister for National Security with policy oversight responsibility for the department of corrections, Pearnel Charles Jr., announced that recruits and correctional officers would be polygraphed as part of a raft of measures aimed at addressing the ongoing claims that music illegally recorded behind bars has been making its way on to the national airwaves.

Hunter made it clear that if correctional officers failed the polygraph or lie detector test, sanctions would apply.

She conceded that if incarcerated persons are recording music in prison it would have to be acts of corruption that facilitated that process.

"We have always had investigations going on; you hear about it and you speculate, we would have had our searches we would have had transfers internally but the concrete evidence to make people culpable is lacking - that is what we continue to search for," she assured.

... Recording music without permission breaches prison regulations

Ina Hunter said that the Department of Correctional Services has a holistic approach to rehabilitation, noting that there was a time when music was used to achieve this objective.

"We believe that when you come to an institution it is for rehabilitation, it is for empowerment and so we have a diversified programme to include music," she explained.

However the head of the department of corrections contended that any unauthorised activity, including the recording of music without permission is a breach of the department's regulations.

"Any activity that is legitimate must get the authorisation of the commissioner of corrections as the person in charge; I gave no authorisation for any music in the way it is being purported," she maintained.

Charles Jr, pointed out that every effort would be made to eradicate corruption and criminality while holding persons accountable for breaches as well as deficiencies in management. "It is unacceptable that breaches continue year after year, and it is time to draw a line in the sand," he said.