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Jun 15, 2015

Prison Officer Speaks About Inadequate Conditions

Emmanuel Willoughby

Earlier this month, twenty-four-year-old Michael Robinson, recently released from a seven year stint in prison, visited the media with a list of allegations against the management and even prison officers at that facility – from corruption to abuse and negligence. Management immediately refuted those allegations, claiming that Robinson wasn’t exactly a credible source. Well tonight a prison officer has come forward to state that many of those allegations made by Robinson are actually true. Rujan Staine had quite a lot to say today, but we start with the conditions of a facility known as Administrative Segregation. That’s where inmate Emmanuel Willoughby was being kept when he escaped in December 2014. Staine says he was posted at Tango One that day, and it is only then that the Team Leader of the outgoing officers told them that there was an alleged escape. According to Staine, who spoke to us off camera, that was hardly surprising since the building is completely dilapidated and should not have been used to house prisoners.

 

Voice of: Rujan Staine, Prison Officer, Belize Central Prison

“About eight-thirty, eight-forty-five that morning is when they confirmed that he was nowhere on the Prison compound. They saw some sheets hanging on the verandah railing going straight down to the bottom of the step because he was on the top flight of Administrative Segregation, the second cell. Apparently Willoughby had cut out about three or four pieces of the rickets which were already dilapidated, so it didn’t take any kind of effort or much work to remove it, and he had made good his escape from probably early in the morning while the tower officers were probably asleep. He planned and strategized his escape very well.”

 

Reporter

“How would he get out from the prison itself, because we know there is an interior wall and also an exterior wall as well?”

 

Voice of: Rujan Staine

“Apparently he climbed over the fence which is right next to Administrative Segregation and hit the bush because right beyond the fence is a lot of bush. However, like I said they have some of the teams where the officers are careless. They always base that the tower guards are the eyes and ears of the prison, and sometimes you have officers sleeping. Many times you are calling, calling and calling and there is no response. There was a time the DCO, because they have base radios…he himself had to call one time at the prison and instruct an officer to go up the tower and see what’s wrong with the officer because he’s not responding to his transmission.”

 

Reporter

“He was sleeping?”

 

Voice of: Rujan Staine

“He was sleeping. In terms of the condition of the cell, especially the cell where Mr. Willoughby was kept, Mr. Murillo has said that while he agrees that the general building is dilapidated, the cells where prisoners are kept are in good condition. They have been renovated. Those have only been renovated since Emmanuel Willoughby escaped. That was when they took down all the rest of the dilapidated bars and replaced them with new bars.”

 

Reporter

“So that area was not adequate to keep prisoners?”

 

Voice of: Rujan Staine

“No, it wasn’t.”

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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