Letter to Foreign Prisoner Support Service
From Terry Donaldson -
27 October 2005
This takes some doing, actually going through the experiences that occurred since March 29th, this year , when the prison erupted in violent and destructive protest. On that day a number of prisoners were brought before Mr. Carriington, one of the senior officers, on a disciplinary matter. One of the old lags- a man called Jones, had been 'bulling' i.e. sexually interfering with some of the much younger prisoners, offering food and drugs in exchange for sex.
Two or three of those that he had interfered with attacked him in Mr. Carrington's new office. This was in a relatively unprotected area. There was no back-up from other prison officers in the event of an emergency.
As Jones fought back, there was an eruption of about a dozen other prisoners, all of who wanted to kill him.
This rapidly escalated into an outbreak of fires starting first in the back prison, then in the security area, and then in the front prison. There was a rush of prisoners down the extension prison (the farm), where, as the fires began to build and a cloud of smoke began to hang over the entire island of Barbados, we noticed a spy plane circling us above. Soldiers appeared and we were all led off to the central cage area by evening.
The next day, in the absence of any food or water, we were forced to break out of this area and re-occupy the prison. Others used this as a pretext for continued burning, and in fact, this was when the bulk of the burnings took place.
Three or so prisoners were killed at this time. Listed below are the details and I have used their prison names.
1. Nook Nook, murdered by Straighfoot on the prompting of the officer in charge of the woodwork store, as he had caught Nook Nok attempting to burn it down.
2. Serial, blasted by Byrne, with a shotgun, as the former was getting a drink of water from a tap.
3. The others I can't say for sure. There were many injuries, also
.we were rounded up again, and placed in a more secure set of cages at the back of the prison.
For the next 3-4 days we were stuck there with only food and water occasionally thrown over the 12' wire perimeter by the guards. Discipline had by now broken down and it was every man for himself. The sun and the rain hit down upon us, it was a difficult time. Numerous stabbings and retaliatory measures took place. A lot of old scores were settled in this time of breakdown.
After this time, we were transferred to a reinforced warehouse. Attempts were made by some leading prisoners- such as Brutal Bob, to establish order. These were partially successful. We were in the warehouses for some 2 weeks, while the authorities made up an old US naval base- St. Lucy- into a temporary prison capable of holding 900 prisoners. Conditions here were insufferable.
For food, the prisoners were given only a small piece of bread roll in the morning, a scoop full of rice at midday + a half a small sardine, every day. There was virtually no change in diet, week in and week out. In the evening, we got a small roll again, with a scrape of peanut butter and tea. For sanitation prisoners had to piss and shit into 3 buckets for 30 men every day. Only two buckets were taken out, so sometimes it was hard for the men to hold themselves.
Getting medical attention was and is still difficult at the whimsy of a moody bitch-like officer. You might or might not get a painkiller if you begged him hard enough. I was stuck for 3 months in the chicken pox centre, although I didn't have the disease. It was as if someone wanted me to catch it. Well they were to be disappointed, because I didn't!
Any infraction of discipline, even a minor one, resulted in CS gas being sprayed indiscriminately into the room, even if there are asthmatics present. Those who dared to say something back to the guards were taken away to the specially -brought in containers; it resembled something out of Nazi Germany. They lined the prisoners up alongside each other, with little mini-doorways cut into the sides of the containers to accommodate the prisoners. You could hear people shouting and screaming inside as they begged for mercy. The guards beat people mercilessly then left them handcuffed upright for days on end. They had to sleep that way, shit and piss themselves like that, too.
All this suffering in a place governed by those priding themselves as being part of a democratic state. 'The most advanced island in the Caribbean' they say. To me and the hundreds of other prisoners there, it was a living hell.