by Sascha Wilson

Visitation restrictions have been implemented at the nation’s prisons in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Acting Prison Commissioner Dennis Pulchan has confirmed that the number of visits and visitors at the prisons have been reduced.  

Instead of the usual six visitors per inmate twice a week, only one visitor will be allowed to visit an inmate once a week.  

Pulchan, however, said they have increased the number of items a visitor could purchase for an inmate at the prison cafeteria.

“We are asking the public to be understanding and understand that we are trying to control an epidemic when entering the prisons.”  

He said they were also hoping to obtain thermal scanners, but in the meantime, they are doing conversational screenings of visitors, inmates, and officers, before they enter the prison.

Pulchan will also be subjected to a screening process. If an inmate is exhibiting flu-like symptoms, he said the inmate will be referred to the prison’s infirmary and if necessary samples will be sent to CAFPHA.

“The inmate will be kept in isolation and if the samples come back positive our option will be total isolation at either Caura Hospital or Couva Hospital.”

Once a visitor is exhibiting flu-like symptoms he or she will not be allowed to enter the prison and will be advised to seek medical treatment.

“The Trinidad and Tobago Prison Service is committed to the safety of the nation and we are also here to ensure a safer environment for inmates, officers, and all stakeholders.”

Prison officers, he said, have been provided with safety equipment.

Pulchan assured that they are working closely with the various ministries, medical health bodies, and other stakeholders as they take the necessary precautions against the spread of COVID-19.

He said the restrictions and measures will remain in effect until further notice.