Prisons chief Juni Hodge calls on Prime Minister Harris to deal with his continued forced leave

Basseterre, St Kitts, May 27, 2019 – Superintendent of Prisons, Mr Juni “Scrape” Hodge, who has been on forced vacation and leave for nearly two years has called on Prime Minister and Minister of National Security Dr the Hon Timothy Harris to provide information on his tenure.
“I call on the Honorable Minister of National Security to state clearly and unequivocally, what is the intent of the government of the day in relation to my tenure as Superintendent of Prisons and why the rules have all been breached or ignored in relation to the allegations made against me and left in doubt for nearly a year and a half,” said Hodge in a letter to Dr Harris dated May 27, 2019.
In his letter Mr Hodge noted that in February 2016, he was appointed by the Government of Saint Kitts and Nevis to serve as Supt. of Prisons. At the time, the Ministry of National Security praised his appointment as representing “my ‘knowledge of the Prisons Act and the issues that perplex the prison system’ at the time among other attributes.”
“I accepted the position as an opportunity to serve my country and apply my experience and skill to an area where such service can best be effected.
During my tenure I acted at all times professionally and always in the best interests of the prison system and the men and women who served with me. Despite the gains made and the hard work we performed, advice was given by the National Security Advisor in the ministry that I was guilty of various forms of misconduct. The said advisor wrote advising the Public Service Commission that I be terminated. At the time my attorneys wrote promptly advising that various disciplinary rules had not been followed as this advice was given without formal charges first laid for me to respond to. It was only after my attorneys wrote to correct this breach of the rules that formal charges were actually laid against me in June 2018 more than 7 months after allegations against me were first raised.”
Mr Hodge’s letter continued: “It must be noted that there was an internal investigation conducted by the Police Strategic Intelligence Unit (PSIU) between October and November 2017 and submitted to the National Security Advisor. While the National Security Advisor held without evidence that I was “a threat to the security of the prison and the Federation” the Intelligence Unit held that this view was unfounded and was only the personal view held by some officers “with no support for their claim”. Indeed the NSA found that there was fragmentation and division among the senior prison management, the Unit highlighted that I myself felt “disrespected” and “undermined” by some of the senior staff. The question begs itself; why was the unit’s advice and findings in this regard ignored?
Working with my lawyers I formally responded to these allegations and called for a disciplinary hearing so that the matter could be resolved and my good name and
reputation finally cleared,” said Hodge in his letter.
He told Dr Harris that “since July 2018, 10 months ago, I have not had the benefit of a hearing despite the fact that charges and allegations were made. That these allegations are baseless and unfounded is clear and obvious. The issue is that since these charges were laid the Government and specifically the Ministry of National Security has failed to address this matter so that the cloud of doubt continues over my head and continues to place my reputation and integrity into question. It seems the ministry was so quick to raise the allegations but for some reason refuse to resolve the matter one way or the other, which begs the question, what other reason would the gov’t have to attack my reputation. If the allegations are true, why have I not had the benefit of a hearing to prove the charges, which is my right by the rule of law?”
“Since July 2018, much has also happened within the prison system. A new “Commissioner of Corrections” office has been created with supervisory authority over this aspect of the national security apparatus. Mr. Denzil “Bull” Harris was also appointed as acting Supt. of Prisons. All this has occurred without a resolution of my case before the PSC,” said Hodge, who told Prime Minister Harris “it is clear to me and all concerned and affected that there is a clear intent on the government not to deal with my matter and keep me and the status of my appointment in a state of limbo and doubt. Again the question is “what is the true nature and intent of this government with regard to my status as Supt. of Prisons?” and to what end?
National security is crucial to the safety and security of the Federation and the prison system is one the most important areas in this democracy. The safety of the public must also be first and foremost in the mind of any democratic government. The failure of any government to adhere to the rule of law and good governance will no doubt lead to a breakdown of the system.,” wrote Hodge.
He said too that the Department of Prisons “like all else must be subject to the rules of fairness and transparency. In the recently concluded parliamentary debate, the Honorable Prime Minister failed to adequately address a question raised about my status and case.”

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