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Commissioner of Prisons Dennis Pulchan.

RHONDOR DOWLAT-ROSTANT

Newly appointed Commissioner of Prisons Dennis Pulchan has promised big advances in the system making it more technologically advanced and into a correctional facility.

Pulchan, who joined the service in 1983, was promoted to the rank by the Public Service Commission effective September 1, 2020.

He received his instrument of appointment during a brief ceremony in Port-of-Spain on Tuesday.

Pulchan said he is honoured and humbled to be confirmed in the position and will continue to serve the citizenry and uphold the mandate of the Prison Service.

Speaking with Guardian Media, Pulchan said he is very happy to reach the pinnacle of his career. “It is a feeling of an achievement to be able to climb my way to the top,” he said.

Pulchan said one of his goals that he has been working on since 2020 is to move the prison to a correctional facility.

He said, “I am of the opinion that the word prison carries a negative connotation to it. I would like to see the word prison replaced by corrections so that once someone is incarcerated they will understand that they don’t need to fight the system but they are here for corrective behaviour.”

Pulchan also said that one of his wishes is to boost up the agricultural sector and revealed that 26 acres of land are already being cultivated.

“This will make the prisons totally self-reliant. The 26 acres is mainly for agriculture so I’m boosting the agriculture in the prisons service because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the shortage of food we intend to make the prisons self sufficient of food,” Pulchan said.

Pulchan also recognised the technological advances taking place in the system where there are already 12 video conferencing facilities in the prison and “it seemed to be working quite fine. So having to bring a high risk prisoner into Port-of-Spain and having the whole of the Port-of-Spain area locked down that will now become a thing of the past. I have also noticed that some of the cases are moving rapidly.”

He also added that most of the prisoner visits are online which is more proactive allowing them to see and talk to their entire family.

Additionally, the Legal Aid Authority has brought in laptops for the legal aid lawyers to speak with their clients online, “so essentially during my tenure the service the Prison Service has moved to more online services making it more technologically advanced.”

Asked if he will be seeking to address security issues at the Maximum Security Prison (MSP) including the alarm system, Pulchan replied that once he gets the budgetary allocation he will address the issue.

Pulchan said he has met with National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds on several matters and is expected to continue dialogue next week where another meeting is scheduled