Prison director Edward Rohan: “Everything takes a long time here”

Prison director Edward Rohan is contemplating the content of the most recent progress report about the Pointe Blanche prison, Pieter Hofmann reports on Caribisch Netwerk. “The largest stumbling block is the lack of money.”


The Progress Committee did not find the lack of money a valid excuse and it is very critical of the prison director. “The director shows insufficiently that he is achieving results and improvements,” the report reads. Minister Ronald Plasterk (Kingdom Relations) sent it to the Second Chamber at the beginning of November. The committee also calls on the justice ministry to take tough measures. Rohan: “Several proposals in the field of personnel have been submitted, but we are waiting for approval. Everything is costing money and until there is a green light we have to make do with what we have.”

According to the report, Pointe Blanche has too many employees on the payroll, but too few of them are working. Rohan: “That has been partially corrected. Personnel that is no longer on the payroll has been eliminated. Filling the open spots and the training of the right candidates goes slowly. The training begins again in March of next year,” the director sighs. “Everything takes a long time here.”

The current staff members are not exactly thick as thieves either. “Addressing underlings is at times bothersome.”

Next to that there are too few people on the floor. “Absence due to sickness is high and that puts the employees that do work under pressure,” Rohan says. The director suspects that doctors are lenient with the establishment of illnesses among the employees. “An employee should not be declared unfit for work too fast when this is not necessary.”

Rohan emphasized that his relationship with the staff is good. A newspaper article published in September wherein employees ask for his dismissal, is just gossip, he says. “They thought that I did not put enough pressure on the responsible minister. I have explained that it is mainly a matter of not enough financial resources.” Since then the staff has a better understanding of the situation, Rohan says.

He maintains however that a financial injection would make a real difference for the Pointe Blanche prison. The first thing he would do when money becomes available is hiring guards with sufficient training and experience. “Now certain things cannot be done because the know-how is lacking. The day program is an example.”

The report of the Progress Committee notes that critical security systems like fire detectors and communication systems for the staff are not working. That has been solved, Rohan says. “Everything works but the work encountered delays due to payment arrears.”

The Progress Committee does not only criticize the prison director. The minister of justice also ought to intervene with tougher measures to get a grip on the prison. The committee also has a vacancy for a member from St. Maarten but there is still no nomination. Minister of Justice Edson Kirindongo did not react to questions from Caribisch Netwerk.

Based on a general Measure of kingdom administration (AMvRB) St. Maarten is obliged to improve the situation in the Pointe Blanche prison. The Progress Committee has indicated that such a measure is useless when there is no progress or even the will to achieve this.

In April the Progress Committee spoke with the government about the execution of the plans of approach. The plan contains deadlines and point of improvement, but the execution of the plan has encountered delays, according to Rohan due to a lack of money.

The AMvRB has been extended for the third time, after MP André Bosman submitted a motion for this purpose. According to Bosman the AMvRB cannot be terminated because the objectives have not been realized. For this reason the Progress Committee continues with its work and it has set new deadlines for the points of improvement.

Hilbert Haar (Today)