BVI News

Should prison portfolio remain under Education Ministry?

Her Majesty’s Prison in Balsam Ghut.

With a new law to govern the local prison now before the House of Assembly, some legislators have used to opportunity to raise the issue of whether the prison portfolio should remain under the Ministry of Education.

One such legislator was Julian Fraser, who said he has never been in support of the portfolio being under the education ministry.

But, despite his personal feelings, Fraser said he believes it has become important for the prison portfolio to be relocated given the current state of education.

He said keeping the responsibilities for prison under the current ministry will distract from the work that is needed to restore the hurricane-ravaged education sector.

“If there was ever a time when the Premier of this country should have re-examined that position that he took or met where the prison is under the Ministry of Education & Culture, it’s now. I think that the Minister for Education & Culture (Myron Walwyn) … should devote all his time to education given the state of our education system right now; vis-à-vis the physical structure of our school,” Fraser said.

Why is minister sharing prison responsibility with governor?

He further argued that he does not support the idea that the prison portfolio is jointly shared between the governor and a government minister.

He said the governor should either have full responsibility for the prison or none at all.

Government legislator Alvera Maduro-Caines also said she believes the prison portfolio should be shifted to another ministry.

She, however, noted that her views have nothing to do with how the prison is being managed now.

“I guess the premier has his views why it was put under the Ministry of Education, which I have no problem with … As long as the issues in the prison are being sorted out, I don’t have an issue with which ministry it should be under. But, my preference: I thought that it would be better under [the Ministry of] Health. Minister of Education; not that you’re not doing a good job,” she said.

In responding to the arguments, portfolio minister Walwyn said shifting prison responsibilities to another ministry is entirely a matter for Premier Dr D Orlando Smith to decide.

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21 Comments

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  1. daygo says:

    Please don’t put it under picko or else it dead dead dead

    Like 5
    Dislike 1
  2. Reply says:

    Good to see this question being posed. It’s one that I have often pondered sometimes after reading the news.

    IMO, I see two separate and completely differing tasks in educating our children and running a prison. I just cannot see how those tasks can be effectively and sufficiency managed by a singular individual given their growth in complexity over the years.

    Simply: It’s too much for a singular individual with one task having nothing do with the other.

    I never understood why the Education Ministry was given this dual task to begin. And this is no slight against the current Education Minister, whom I consider very capable and up to the task.

    However, I believe the Education Ministry should be just that with a focus on the education of the territories children. The cultural part of that responsibility should imo also be siphoned off to some other person as well.

    The task of running the prison should be the sole responsibility of another Minister. I see no reason why the governor should not share in that responsibility.

    I agree with Mr. Frasier in so far as advocating for a division of the responsibility of these critical functions; however, the all or none approach to the prison responsibility between the Minister and governor, I do no share. I think the governor should be involved here.

    There was a time in our country’s history when these combined ministerial portfolios was manageable; however, over the years with the challenges on both the education and crime front, I personally believe a dedicated person for each chore is needed at this time.

    A dedicated individual to each task is more likely to have better results.

  3. Hell No says:

    No it should not

  4. E. Leonard says:

    Agree with the Hon J. Fraser (D-3) that the operating of Her Majesty’s Prison, the territory’s sole jail, should be shifted from under the MEC. The move has nothing to do with the current operation but rather with importance of education to the territory’s continued growth and development.

    Human capital is the territory most important resource. The territory’s continued growth and development requires effective investment on the education and training of human capital. Further, diversifying and sustaining the economy depends on the territory reaching a critical mass on education and training. The territory must train and educate Virgin Islanders to for the most part meet its employment needs . As such, education and training should be the sole role, responsibility and focus of the Ministry of Education. If not the MEC, where should administration of the jail rest?

    Thinking out loud, suggest creating a Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) or a Department of Home Affairs (DHA). The portfolio of HMA can include policing, jail operations, national security, emergency management……etc. As a DHA, it can fall under the portfolio of the Premier.

    Moreover, also agree with the Hon J. Fraser (D-3) that administration of the prison should be the responsibility of either the local government or the governor. The current joint administration is probably not the most effective and efficient way to administer the prison. On another note, I think the UK funded the construction of the prison. Nonetheless, the BVI also need help in funding, designing, and constructing new high/junior high schools. It cost less to educate than to incarcerate.

    • Reader says:

      Good points, especially that it would be more constructive for UK to also assist with Education.

    • @E.Leonard says:

      The B.V.I. did get help after Irma to fund the rebuilding of the High school see the video below:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RNlFsfSAvOA

      It’s just a matter of asking what is really going on why haven’t the public seen any progress made in that area.

      Like 1
      Dislike 1
      • E.Leonard says:

        @@E.Leonard, thank for the response. And ???????????? to the Asia House. As such what is the tall pole in the tent in regards to the ESHS repairs.

        Nonetheless, that said I will jump on my soap box regarding the repair/reconstruction of ESHS. ESHS sits on several on several acres of scarce, prime real estate in the heart of Road Town, the territory’s capital city. However, IMO, the prime real estate land use is not being optimized. To maximize the land use, the ESHS campus/facilities needs to be razed, resited, redesigned and reconstructed to facilitate a new, modern high/junior school campus with cafeteria(s), gyms, other sport facilities….etc.

        Further, the new campus can be designed with a dual purpose. During normal operations, it will function as a high/junior high school. And in emergencies, ie, hurricanes…..etc it can function as a relative safe rideout shelter. Of course, this entails designing and constructing the new campus to withstand a cat 4/5 hurricane force winds, storm surges and floods. Hurricanes Irma and Maria in a twisted way provides the opportunity to maximize the use of this piece of prime real estate.

  5. Quiet Storm says:

    @E. Leonard, where are you going with this, “I think the UK funded the construction of the prison. Nonetheless, the BVI also need help in funding, designing, and constructing new high/junior high schools. It cost less to educate than to incarcerate.”? Is this a cryptic message, ie, it is more amenable to locking them up than educating them? The VI is too small for a prison industrial complex but is the thought process the same? Hurricane Irma mashed up Elmore Stout High School, the only academic high school on Tortola, but there seems to be no urgency to get it repaired and up and running. Is the Mother country really interested in chiren in some far flunged colony getting a good education? Back to sleep now.

    Like 6
    Dislike 1
    • The says:

      coloniser and imperialist never build schools throughout history, and they are not going to start doing so in the 21st century.They only build prisons.

      We, just as we did when times were hard and dollars were few, have to build our own educational institutions beyond post irma damage.

      He who does not know of and have not studied and analyzed history will continue to hold both hands out stretched to a fictious “mother” for educational assistance that will not be coming.

      We together can re-build the high school. There are so many people throughout our community who are willing to help, from heavy equiptment to labourers to all needed, and many are baffelled as to why our government has not accepted that help.

      The current condition of that campus is beginning to indicate that we the people are of no educational pride,and that we cannot construct an educational institution by us for us, when the opposite is true.

      We can re-build our school!
      I know we can! Just take the politics out of it and see if we don’t build that school back in short time.

      Questionis: who will step up and organize those willing community members to begin work.

    • @Quiet Storm. says:

      Don’t go back to sleep as yet. I’m certain E. Leonard can speak for himself, but I don’t think he was suggesting cryptically that locking up people is better than educating them.

      Reading his post, he clearly emphasized the opposite, i.e., the importance of education. That’s the main message I got from his post, a position I agree with.

      The only difference of opinion I have with Mr. Leonard’s position is the role of the governor in the running of the prison. I think he should have a role to play in it’s operations.

      I am not convinced that any minister should shoulder that responsibility solely primarily for practical reasons based on the way our government is constitutionally sat up.

      If anything we should learn from the destruction of the prison from last years hurricanes is that we need to have a team in place to deal with such emergencies. A team that has the ability to call upon all resources readily if needed in an urgent way.

      I am afraid in a situation like the example cited, the minister on their own would not have all the resources at their disposal to do all that will be needed timely.

      If one recall after the prison was destroyed, prisoners were either released/they escaped the damaged facility.

      It required a coordinated effort to get everyone back under prison control, something that needs improvement since prisoners were out for longer than need be.

      Something like that rounding up of prisoners required a coordinated effort. I don’t think a minister on their own could do something like that more swiftly without the governors involvement.

      • Quiet Storm says:

        @Quiet Storm, thanks for civil and reasoned discusion on the prison operation, ie, if it should be under the Governor or a minister. Let’s not short change the skills and ability of a local minister. Should we not give our local people the opportunity to excel? Are we saying that if it comes from the outside it is always better?

        That seems to be the recent trend with some jobs that Virgin Islanders should be able to do, ie, Supt of Prison, Managing Director Port Authority, Chairperson of BVIHSA……..etc; what is next? Running the prison effectively is not the province of crown-appointed governors. I’m confident that a minister can manage the prison as effectively as any governor.

        Running the prison is not some complex finite mathematical equation. Even if were, Virgin Islanders should be trained to manage it; they are not that duncy. Our USVI neighbor runs its own prison locally. I’m sure that if there is a special need that it will appeal to the US for assistance as the BVI should able to do with the UK.

        • @Quiet Storm says:

          Thank you also for your civil response and participation in this discussion. I had a hunch that the objection to the governor’s role in running the prison would be viewed the way you are viewing it, and that’s unfortunate.

          For me, this is not an issue of whether a local person can run the prison or not, and should not be viewed as such. It’s larger than that. I agree that a local can do a fine job.

          The point I am trying to make is that even if a local person runs the prison, he/she will need the assistance of the sitting governor to achieve certain goals. So why exclude him? Why not let him remain a part of the process so that when the need arises, he is familiar with the issue(s), and can timely co-respond/assist? It’s called team effort.

          As I indicated for practical reasons, the governor should have a role because he has constitutional powers unlike a minister to orchestrate resources in a manner a minister can not. That why I emphasized practical reasons.

          I think much of these discussions are shaped incorrectly by seeing all things thru the local vs outsider narrative.

          Like you, I will like to see as many locals get whatever opportunities they can, but lets not circumvent a common sense approach to issues by always insisting a local do everything.

          We have a governor, like it or not, and we have ministers. They have differing roles and constitutional powers. They should be working together when necessary.

          So long as we have the current constitutional structure in place, it’s foolhardy for ministers and governors not to be working together to achieve the larger goal.

          Everything does not have to be seen thru the lens of them vs us. It really does the country a disservice when we do not look towards the larger picture realistically.

          The fact is when it comes to certain jobs, including the prison, the governor based on his constitutional powers, serves an important role. Lets not be shortsighted about our approach here.

          So, yes a local can run the prison, but it will be unwise to overlook or avoid a working relationship with the governor in doing so. If that ever become the case, the system will become inefficient, because the governor which can bring important resources to the management of the prison has been cut out of the process.

          One can envision what will follow next when things go wrong at the prison: Complaints that the governor is not doing anything to help.

          • Disinterested says:

            @@Quiet Storm, nonsense and hogwash. Using your logic, locals will not be managing anything, for the Governor has super constitutional powers so only he can manage things. Taxpayers are good enough to funding for the operations of the prison but not good enough or smart enough to manage it. The superiority and inferiority complex is alive and well. It has been almost 200 years but that conditioning is still working. ???????? out.

        • @Quiet Storm says:

          Unfortunately its clear your mind is fixed and no amount of discussion will cause you to see another point of you. Just that you know short of a constitutional review adressing such issues, the status quo will remain. Thanks nevertheless for engaging.

          Enjoy the remainder of your day. Perhaps we can find common ground on another issue.

  6. Check says:

    This out: The late Hon HL Stoutt and his clans back in the days were not perfect and time was different but they did a lot of good for the Virgin Islands and its people. Then Hon. HL Stoutt passed and the baton was passed on to Hon. RT O’Neal and his Clans, still VIP. But it seems like after HL passed, they can’t seem to get it right. VIP got caught up with the Airport scam, Bi Water, Greenhouses and that got the people vex up so they decided to drain da swamp and voted in NDP whom most of the founding members were mentored under HL Stoutt. They did well the first tme around in my view but were voted out by VIP landslide victory. Then again, the people got vex up with VIP and decided to give the NDP another try only to find out the BVI Airways saga, The Pier Park debacle, The School wall bantar and a host of many more and now the people are again vex up and might very well drain da swamp. VIP, NDP just can’t seem to get it right. Can anyone decipher this Maze? I am puzzled.

    • @Check says:

      H.L. Stoutt had issues just like this Government except that we didn’t have the technology at the time to get real time information. There’s nothing happening now that didn’t happen back then except back then we had a lot more cash to play with. Sorry to say but if those before us did such a great job we wouldn’t have sewerage running in the streets and so many places without water. H.L. Stoutt only passed just over 20yrs ago. Proper infrastructure lasts 30-50yrs so do the math. We have become a society of complaining and pointing fingers instead of getting up and trying to make things better. Everything is right or wrong depends on who is being affected. If government spending benefits us then we say it’s looking out for their people, but when govt spending benefits someone else we want an investigation because it’s corruption. Let’s stop hiding behind Government. The BVI got worst because the people got worst! In the days of HL Stoutt the people did their part, we helped each other, we lived as one for the most part. Right now all we want is money and to show off on each other while being fake ‘friends’ on social media. Like or dislike but these are the facts. No party will change the BVI, the PEOPLE of the BVI will have to change before the BVI can change.

    • Disinterested says:

      @check, here is the problem and a solution to the problem. Political patronage and dependency are suffocating the BVI. People are totally dependent on government for everything; they expect government to do everything for them. And for a few or many votes, government enables them. Government, Instead of teaching the electorate how to fish, it provides the fish. If government fails to provide the fish, it is kicked out of office. And the beat goes on and on and on. Slavery was about brutalizing and dehumanizing our foreparents; it also entails dependency. Fast forward, the BVI in current day is trading that type of dependency for another type of dependency.

      Furthermore, election in the BVI is a popularity contest, a beauty pagent of sorts. VI voters race to polls on Election Day and go in hibernation for as long as the patronage faucet is turned on. Shut off the faucet and all hell breaks loose. As such, as long as the faucet is turned on and flowing, government can do whatever it wants without nary a concern, ie, give away $7.2M to a bankrupt airline (BVI Airways), construct a $1.2M ESHS Great Wall, bring in TPP project with a supposed $40M cost over run, $16M road project down the drain……..etc. Hurricane Irmaria aside, the country is bruk and off course and heading in the wrong direction.

      Thus, the electorate must get engage as a check valve for any government whether it is VIP, NDP, UP, PUP, PEP, CCM, ABC, LMN, XYZ or any other alphabet soup government. A disengaged electorate gives license to government to do as it pleases. Contrary to the popular belief, the electorate, not the politicians, has the true power.

      However, too often, the electorate cedes that power to politicians; the electorate needs to take the power back and make things happen, not wonder what happen. If the electorate does not believe it has the true power, election season is in full swing so observe how humble and friendly politicians are for your vote. People who you thought were dumb now speaks and act gregariously. Wow! If we trust politicians with our votes, we should hold them accountable and responsible; we need to hold dem feet to the white hot fire. If we do anything less, we are failing in our responsibilities.

      The lackadaisical electorate must shoulder some of the blame for where the territory is politically, economically and socially.

  7. Easy says:

    The Prison should be under the Ministry of Health Welfare and the Airport needs to be under Ministry of Communications and Works. Culture and Tourism should be the responsibility of a Jr. Minister and the other Jr. Minister should be responsible for Trade and Investment, taking that off the Premier’s table, as it currently is.

  8. Check says:

    I hear you but let’s disagree to agree. Notice I started by saying HL Stoutt wasn’t perfect. When HL Stoutt was around the territory was not so advanced as it is today. The population was smaller thus the infracture was not so taxed. Many vehicles on our roads, more wear n tear. More buildings, more electricity. More bodies so more sewerage load. More children so less school space. Don’t get me wrong, we want good people to come stay with us. We welcome and embrace good people but it is reality the population has grown and there will be need for more enhanced features. Now, I have to agree with you that it is the people who help corrupt a Government and it happened even in HL Stoutt’s days. People have to be more self relient BUT, Governments have to be better Stewards with OUR money. It is not theirs to just blatantly take up and give away. Our reserves should have and could have had hundreds of thousands of millions dollars in it from HL Stoutt’s time. And moreso when the names Jarecki, Johnson and Branson came on the scene. And tell me the logic behind why most of these foreign businesses DO NOT favour the Locals. Don’t tell me anything about being lazy or not qualified. That’s a hogwash excuse. Gone are the days when Politicians like Conrad Maduro, Oliver Cills, Walwyn Brewly, Julian Fraser would stand up against these injustices to the nationals of the territory. The people of this territory need to open their eyes when these bunch of NO GOOD Politicians come knocking on their doorsteps talking crap to them about vote for me. The Owners of these foreign companies and some local companies need to be investigated everyone of them. We need a strong Labour minister to begin with and we need to start by electing honest, uncorrupt people to run our affairs. The parties can remain. VIP, NDP, BUT the players Must change. If you think that I am hidig behind a screen, Time will tell.

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