The presence of cell phones and illicit substances within the Camp Street Prison aided in maintaining order beyond the walls, prisoner Dwayne Lewis told the Commission of Inquiry investigating last week’s riot that resulted in the deaths of 17 prisoners.
Lewis who is behind bars on manslaughter charge, said cell phones, marijuana and alcohol brought comfort and calm to prisoners who he described as mostly frustrated.
Recounting the usual searches within the prison, Lewis said the accompanying seizures of cell phones and illicit substances led to unease among inmates.
He recalled that two large buckets of cell phones and what he said seemed to be marijuana were recovered during the most recent search on March 2nd, 2016.
The prisoner was adamant that the seizure of these items was not helpful in comforting prisoners.
“There is no comfort if they [prisoners] dont have these things,” he said, adding that “these things brought order and comfort.”
He said while cell phones and marijuana may have been smuggled into the prison, local alcohol was made by prisoners.
Cutlasses and other sharp objects were made in prison, he also confirmed.
Lewis stayed clear of offering any advice on how cell phones and illicit substances make their way into the prison.
“I can’t say how these things make their way into the prisons and even if I could I will not say,” he added.
Lewis was then advised by the Commission’s Chairman, retired Justice Mr. James Patterson that he had a right to withhold that information.
He said he understands that the searches were to make the prisons safe but insisted that the searches were doing more harm than good.
“Even if you come to search and you find 10 cell phones, you could take six and leave four.”
Lewis held out himself as a peaceful prisoner and claimed that vital services like making calls to family members were not afforded. “To be honest I depended on other inmates to call my family”, he said.
“I feel safe in my division because I don’t get time to be involved in any wrong doing, I just focus on my Quran and focus on God”, he noted.