Psychiatric help to be provided to ‘suicidal’ murder accused
Fire in prison cell…
- Erskine denies Colin Jones is injured
Director of Prisons Dale Erskine has launched an investigation into Saturday’s incident which resulted in prison inmate Colin Jones starting a fire in his cell.
But Erskine denied that the murder accused was injured, since the prison Director spoke with the inmate before and after his visit to the hospital.
“When I spoke to him on his return from the hospital he had no marks about his body and all he kept saying was that he wanted to kill himself.”
Erskine said this will later be clarified too by his relatives who will be allowed to visit him sometime later this week.
On Saturday last Jones removed a bulb which was in his cell and used the exposed wire to start a fire. Reports are that his mattress was burnt but he escaped unhurt. Quick response by the Guyana Fire Service and Prison official prevented what could have been major disaster.
Responding to the claims by Jones’ relatives that he had not received medical attention at the Georgetown Public Hospital, Erskine said when Jones arrived at the hospital medical personnel indicated that there was no need for any medical treatment. This publication was told that based on that advice Jones was returned to the Camp Street Prison.
Erskine said it has been observed that Jones is in urgent need for psychiatric evaluation and the prison authority will look into this issue urgently. When asked about a previous court order for Jones to get psychiatric evaluation, Erskine said he was not aware of any court order. He however said that issue will be looked at and addressed.
“We will ensure that he gets to see a doctor as it is our policy for the inmates to get the necessary treatment if needed, because you can definitely see that something is not right with Colin,”.
Also on the issue of Jones being held in solitary confinement Erskine said this is being done because of security reasons.
Further elaborating on psychiatric treatment that is currently available to prisoners, the Prisons Head said, Psychiatrist Dr. Bhiro Harry provides his services fortnightly. However, there is also a system where patients are allowed to see the doctor when needed outside of the prison visit by the Psychiatrist.
But Erskine acknowledged the fact that the fortnightly visits may not be enough for prisoners, while noting that they are working with the limited resources available to the Prison Service.
Further, the Director of Prisons added that it is the responsibility of the Prison to ensure that each prisoner gets whatever medical attention is needed.
“If we get a written court order for a prisoner to get medical attention of any kind we have a mandate to do so, we cannot violate a court order.”
He however pointed out that there may be instances where a Magistrate makes the verbal request in the court but for some reason does not document it.
“Once we receive something on paper we have to follow that but if we don’t get that we can’t send patients for treatment, unless the signs are there and it is blatant that some sort of treatment is required.”
Currently, Erskine said, they are several inmates who are seen regularly by Dr. Harry.
They include John Blanchard who has been charged for the murder of his three children. At the commencement of his matter his lawyer, Peter Hugh, had been asking the court for an order to be made for his client to get psychiatric evaluation before the Preliminary Inquiry begins. In many other instances lawyers are heard raising similar issues in the Magistrates’ Courts for their clients. They include Leonard Nelson who was charged in 2008 for setting fire to the Psychiatric Ward of the Georgetown Public Hospital. Nelson’s relatives had complained that he was not getting the psychiatric help he needed. Another prisoner, Kelvin Wattermam, was also said to be in need of psychiatric help. Before his PI commenced, his lawyer alleged that despite the court order, Watterman was not getting his treatment.