‘Rigid Checks’ After Inmate Saws Through Bar

May 31, 2013

Following a prison inmate sawing his way out of his maximum security prison cell on Bermuda Day the Prison Commissioner has instituted “rigid internal checks” and modifications to the unit’s cells will be made, said Public Safety Minister Michael Dunkley today [May 31] in the House of Assembly.

Minister Dunkley said the inmate was able to exit his cell in the Maximum Security Unit having sawed through a cell window bar and subsequently through a hole in the grill immediately outside his cell window. The inmate was seen on video climbing out of his cell and going to the perimeter wall to retrieve items.

“These items included foodstuffs, cell phone chargers and cell phone batteries,” said the Minister. “These items were seized by Corrections Officers and were subsequently handed over to the Police to assist in the criminal investigation. The inmate was removed from his cell and transferred to a cell in the Segregation Unit.”

The Minister said that after the breach, a check of all window bars in the Maximum and Segregation Units was conducted and one other cell window bar was found to be tampered with.

“The facts surrounding this incident are concerning and with the full support of the Ministry, the Commissioner of Corrections has initiated an investigation into this matter to include ensuring that officers are performing daily checks required to verify the integrity of the systems on which the facility relies to provide secure environments for inmates,” said Minister Dunkley.

“The Commissioner has instituted rigid internal checks to ensure cell and Unit integrity. Officers will also be reminded of the importance of adhering to standard procedures that support the safety of inmates and their colleagues working within the facility. Additionally, Madame Deputy Speaker, immediate modifications to the Maximum Security unit’s cells will be made to also improve upon the security they are designed to provide.

The Minister said that “the Police are investigating the actions of the inmate in question and the laying of any charges or a subsequent appearance in court will be a matter for them in consultation with the Director of Public Prosecutions.

“Whilst this incident revealed areas in need of improvement, it is the vigilance of the officers on duty at the time that saved the day,” continued Minister Dunkley.

“Their quick action at a time when most of us were asleep and resting for the Bermuda Day festivities served to demonstrate that there is no substitute for well trained, alert and dedicated men and women in public service.

“I wish to thank them for their actions in the course of their duty and support the Commissioner’s intent to specially commend them.”

Minister Dunkley’s full statement follows below

Madame Deputy Speaker, Honourable Members will be aware from media reports that a breach of security occurred at Westgate Correctional Facility in the early hours of Friday, May 24th.

As I indicated in public comments outside of this Honourable House, the safety and security of the officers, inmates and people of Bermuda is a top priority of this Government.

In the throes of the Bermuda Day celebrations, Madame Deputy Speaker, the Ministry of Public Safety was hard at work dealing with this incident. I was immediately briefed by the Permanent Secretary who had in turn been fully advised by the Commissioner of Corrections.

Madame Deputy Speaker, I am pleased to provide this Honourable House and the public with the update I promised earlier this week.

The inmate in question was able to exit his cell in the Maximum Security Unit having sawed through a cell window bar and subsequently through a hole in the grill immediately outside his cell window.

The inmate was seen on video footage climbing out of his cell and going to the perimeter wall to retrieve items. These items included foodstuffs, cell phone chargers and cell phone batteries.

These items were seized by Corrections Officers and were subsequently handed over to the Police to assist in the criminal investigation. The inmate was removed from his cell and transferred to a cell in the Segregation Unit.

Madame Deputy Speaker, the breach was identified and isolated immediately and in the wake of the incident decisive action has been taken. I am pleased to advise the House as follows:

A 100% check of all window bars in the Maximum and Segregation Units has been conducted and one other cell window bar was found to be tampered with.

The Commissioner of Corrections was at Westgate on Monday with his senior command team to conduct a full debrief on the incident, including a review of the video footage to confirm what happened and the timings.

Madame Deputy Speaker, the facts surrounding this incident are concerning and with the full support of the Ministry, the Commissioner of Corrections has initiated an investigation into this matter to include ensuring that officers are performing daily checks required to verify the integrity of the systems on which the facility relies to provide secure environments for inmates.

Following the briefing, the Commissioner personally led an inspection of the Maximum Unit during which all grills, windows, fencing and the perimeter wall were inspected.

A local welder who is most familiar with Westgate has been engaged to inspect the cell-window bars. This was also done on Monday and a report on the state of the cells and any necessary recommendations will be provided to the Commissioner.

Officers and senior staff conducted a surprise, full-scale search throughout the entire facility during which a full lock-down was in effect. These will become more frequent in order to maintain high standards of security.

Madame Deputy Speaker, in addition to the actions I have just outlined, the Commissioner has instituted rigid internal checks to ensure cell and Unit integrity. Officers will also be reminded of the importance of adhering to standard procedures that support the safety of inmates and their colleagues working within the facility.

Additionally, Madame Deputy Speaker, immediate modifications to the Maximum Security unit’s cells will be made to also improve upon the security they are designed to provide.

Madame Deputy Speaker, the Police are investigating the actions of the inmate in question and the laying of any charges or a subsequent appearance in court will be a matter for them in consultation with the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Madame Deputy Speaker, whilst this incident revealed areas in need of improvement, it is the vigilance of the officers on duty at the time that saved the day. Their quick action at a time when most of us were asleep and resting for the Bermuda Day festivities served to demonstrate that there is no substitute for well trained, alert and dedicated men and women in public service.

I wish to thank them for their actions in the course of their duty and support the Commissioner’s intent to specially commend them.

Madame Deputy Speaker, in closing, let me again assure the people of Bermuda that this Government takes seriously the safety and security of the people. The Commissioner of Corrections and his officers acted quickly and decisively.

Since this incident, no effort has been spared to address the issues and accountability at all levels has been the order of the day. Internal procedures have been strengthened and a heightened awareness of the importance of even routine tasks has been reinforced by the Commissioner and his senior command team.

Mr. Speaker, I can also advise this Honourable House that I will be visiting Westgate next week to see for myself how the actions taken have impacted the security of the facility. The Commissioner and his officers deserve our support as they manage the challenges presented in modern-day corrections.

Thank you Madame Deputy Speaker.

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Comments (11)

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  1. d.o. says:

    Inferior steel, must have been non galvanized re bar

    • Hmmmmm says:

      Something else the OBA and the UBP have in common. Couldn’t resist.

  2. smit says:

    What does this have to do with oba dreamer

  3. Tina says:

    Well, what did he use to ‘saw’ a steel bar off? And how did he obtain his tool? Surely that is something that should be looked into, not just the strength and integrity of the bars…

    • Keepin' it Real...4Real! says:

      im with you on that Tina ,,,,no mention of what he used or how he obtained this tool…i dont think a plastic knife would suffice…he wasnt even trying to escape the facility …jus trying to recover some much needed prison supplies…lol. Does this facility not have perimeter cams…a prison of such miniscule proportions compared to other detainment centers are armed to the tooth with surveillance equipment…less chances of this happening…less man power to pay…we could have saved millions with tents and a lethal electric fence, ….one guard tower in the center…360degree visibilty…outdoor showers with water heated by he sun(not expensive water heaters or solar heaters, jus big black holding tanks)…forget that sports field up there , use that to grow thier food thus saving more money…providing things to do rather than planning their next crime…also if you dont work , you dont eat!!
      things would change drastically up there …do away with their state of the art laundry , wash their clothes by hand…do away with the kitchens too…BBQ every night…they only need to eat once a day anyway…you dont need3 meals aday, that is jus one of the many fallacies that you have been led to believe by corporate induction to profit off of your demise…as long as you walk around with your eyes closed you will continue to run into things…for those of you who claim to be educated, im sorry to tell you but you are just “programmed”…common sense is the real education that you need in life…but common sense is natural and not profitable ,unlike colleges n universities which command more than what you can provide ,hence student loans , the beginning of your debts for life…oh well its about self survival now , take care and i’ll see you when you get here.

      • Come Correct says:

        I did jobs at all 3 prisons on the island, westgate was the least organized and least secure.

  4. Casemates says:

    I believe in NO WINDOWS.

  5. Truth is killin me... says:

    Commissioner…what type of institution are you supposedly running up there bye!!!

  6. You know you all just make me laugh, havent you realize that going to prison is a luxury and has it’s benefits. you have access to more in prison then you do on the outside.

    when a riot breaks out in Bermy I guarantee you more weapons will come from the inside then on th e street, you have the generals up there and the commanders and the commadores and the foot soldiers.

    They are not trying to get out but only keeping us on our toes to show who is really in control.

    seriously speaking if I ever have to go there just put me in the section with the hand grenades, so when I get tired I can bring back guy fawks night and 4th of July in one go.

    Tongue and cheek that with stupidity and you would be a great genius.

  7. Judge & Jury says:

    These incidents are happening all over the world and especially in some American prison. Just go online and prisoners are on Facebook and doing more vile things that would be thought about here. Overseers prisoners kill officers, ours just want some weed and talk to their mommas. We all sit in our chairs and write comments, about how tuff we want it for prisoners yet we would all be crying to the Commissioner if it was so. Stop talking s$$$t.
    With understaffing, an issue that Westgate opened with, drugs and phone coming over the walls for years, Bermuda’s prisoners have a life of luxury. Their friends walk in, or come by boat to hand over contraband . Mr Commissioner, hugs are not working.

    Those officers working that night should be commended, along with the other hard working staff who save lives and find contraband daily. In some US states, it is illegal by Law, to bring a phone into a prison and also to record via Facebook or on the web any inmate webcams.

  8. Y-Gurl says:

    If this wasnt so damn serious it would be funny, did he get a cake the day before? why is it so difficult to keep contraband out of the hands of prisioners, surely by design its a fairly secure facility and yet we hear about this all the time..someone isnt doing what they are getting paid for