PHILIPSBURG–A new director for the Pointe Blanche prison will be selected by November 1.
Justice Minister Cornelius de Weever told Members of Parliament (MPs) during a meeting of the Central Committee of Parliament on Friday that the application process for a new director has closed and interviews with prospective candidates are being conducted.
“We intend to have a prison director chosen by November 1,” De Weever said. “This is also part of our agreements with the Netherlands and they have to be informed of such.”
He said no decision had been taken as yet on who the new director will be.
The prison has been without a director for some time now since Edward Rohan, who had served in this position, was sent on extended leave of absence.
Former Justice Minister Rafael Boasman appointed acting police spokesperson Inspector Steven Carty and former prison guard Wilfred Williams in February to run the day-to-day operations at the prison on a short-term basis. The police and Prosecutor’s Office are to lend support to the two-man team if needed.
The prison currently has about 60 inmates and efforts will be made to return the country’s prisoners back home from Curaçao and the Netherlands in the near future. Some 50 inmates with long-term sentences were transferred to detention facilities in the Netherlands and Curaçao following Hurricane Irma, which caused extensive damage to the detention facility when it struck the country as a category 5-plus storm in September 2017.
De Weever said it is costly for the inmates to remain abroad. It will cost about US $350,000 to bring the inmates back to St. Maarten and more than 500,000 euros if they are brought back home in phases.
In providing an update on the repairs to the prison, De Weever said all outer walls that were damaged during the hurricane have been rebuilt. Due to security issues, he could not divulge certain information. He said the necessary protection around the prison has been approved. A company will be coming to the country in the next few weeks to install the protection.
Independent Consulting Engineers (ICE) conducted an inventory of all the work that needed to be done. De Weever is expected to meet with ICE representatives soon.
He said instead of having one large project, given the urgency of the work to be conducted and the need to have the country’s inmates returned, he would like the work to be done in “bits and pieces.” Therefore, if a wall needs to be erected, this will be done as a project. A company can be brought in to do the work if it does not meet the NAf. 50,000 requirement whereby a public bid would be necessary.
De Weever said Irma had done a lot of damage to the prison roof and leaks still exist. He said everything is being moved from the roof, which is being rubberised. He said if the work is broken up, repairs can be done faster. “It is the intention over the next two weeks to ensure that inmates are secured and not affected by any rainfall,” he said.