The Futsal programme was introduced to the nation’s prison in April 2017 with the assistance of former national footballer Clayton Morris. It seemed to be having a positive impact inside the jails. However, the murder of Prisons Superintendent Wayne Jackson in October 2018 exposed a dark side of the programme. Following investigations, Guardian Media interviewed Prisons Commissioner Gerald Wilson who spoke frankly about Jackson’s murder and the Futsal programme. Here is the first part of his interview with GML’s Lead Editor of the Investigative Desk Mark Bassant.
I want to take you back to the Futsal final in July 2018 which was on a Saturday. Prisons officers I spoke with said Mr Clayton Morris had a meeting with Mr Jackson and other senior officers prior to the final to decide on the menu which was buss up shut and curry chicken. However, when the food arrived and two black Navarras pulled up outside, the first prisons officer raised a red flag and he called upstairs. A prisons officer then said let them through and they got to the second gate and then to the gym and where it was discovered there was packaged food which also contained wild meat. Mr Jackson said he could not allow the wild meat inside. Can you confirm this was the case?
Wilson: That is correct what you have outlined on the day of the incident that is what I heard. I was on vacation but that is what I heard. The Commissioner of Prisons has the prerogative to authorise or not authorise food to come in. Some of the programmes, for instance, some of the small churches come in at Christmas time and then we allow them to bring food at the end of the session in the spirit of Christmas but it must be from a caterer who we would have assessed. It cannot be from Tom, Dick, and Harry for security reasons. When it comes in, we search, we also search to ensure nothing is illicit in the items.
At the meeting with Clayton Morris he was told it was a caterer and the caterer must not be associated with an inmate, it must be an independent person vetted by us. My information is that it did not happen! I think in Clayton Morris’s case he did a fantastic job in terms of the Futsal. In terms of the relationship, this is where the outmanoeuvring comes in, so I do not know who would have convinced him because, but Clayton Morris came from UTT, which was a UTT programme. They would send him out and he would do these programmes. So I understand the day of the finals they realise it had wild meat and they were like who authorise this and then Mr Jackson said that he was not going to take it. But I’ll tell you this my information is too that Mr Jackson said the food is here already, we will not take the wildmeat but we’ll take the other things and search them and what have you.
Did you think Mr Jackson’s denial of the food could have been a reason for his death?
Wilson: Whether Mr Jackson’s death was due to the denial of food I do not know but prior to that incident with the Futsal and the finals, there was another issue with Mr Jackson and something else he decided he did not want to entertain and it is suggested that may have been the reason and not so much the final of the Futsal.
What was that?
Wilson: That would have been the Eid celebration and the same bringing of the food and things like that, so I understand that some persons were not too happy about the denial of that meal and information is a bit not so conclusive in terms of what would have created the agitation. I suspect it would have been something. I mean no one would have gone at a Superintendent at that level unless there was something that created that problem, so we look at Futsal on one end and the other thing on the other end. Which one it is I do not know. But I am saying that is another thing you can look at too, which one was it that was bandied about, these persons wanted the meal and he said no, and it created some hard feelings and that type of thing and then they had the Futsal thing where some of the food was turned away so, when you look at both of them you can probably weigh it.
In a previous conversation with now Acting Commissioner of Prisons Dane Clarke he said there was an internal investigation into all aspects of Futsal as well as an ongoing police investigation. Can you give us clarity on where this investigation has reached and why was the Futsal programme stopped?
Wilson: My concern, when I got the information, would have been the food coming in and the fact there was a meeting held and how we could hold a meeting with Clayton Morris. He would have been given certain instructions and information and then move contrary to that that is one of the things I wanted to be investigated. However, the aspect with Mr Jackson and whether it was because of that, that would be a police investigation. But internally that bothered me. Why would you have a meeting? You would have been told the yes’s and the no’s and then decide to do what you want.
Why would persons be able to bring those items if they were told differently? So then remember Mr Jackson was a popular Superintendent and person and his death created some animosity among officers, so in that regard, I decided that because Clayton Morris would have been targeted as the person who would have allowed those persons to come in and probably did not manage the thing properly and in order not to bring grief to officers or continued grief I decided (1) we would investigate to find out what would have caused that and (2) to cut the programme for a while so officers will not see him and rehash what happened.
In reference to the internal investigation alluded to by Mr Clarke and Jackson’s death, where has that reached since it has been more than a year and a half?
Wilson: We suffer from closure most times when officers die. We keep asking the question how and officers remain with anxiety and disappointment and we do not ever get closure. We are still guessing what caused it and who would have done it. It is not a nice feeling.
There was another incident involving Mr Morris and him bringing in a civilian with him in his vehicle during the Futsal program at the Maximum Security Prison. I understand prisons officers were very concerned about this incident?
Wilson: I had spoken to Clayton about it. I called him and I said I heard this transpired and I am totally upset about it I say because the programme is not popular you have to remember I have a duty of care to officer and inmate so if officers are aggrieved about something I have to understand where they coming from too and what you did there was absolutely wrong and even though you saw the person and you realise they walking in and they late, let them go through the gate you cannot bring them in your vehicle.
I was really was upset, I told him the same way I endorse the programme is the same way I shut it down as fast as I endorse it.
Is it because he created a security risk?
Wilson: Exactly and the officers are right if they upset about it they are quite right. I say I do not care who it is I called him and if you speak to him he will tell you I did that, I really chastised him for it you know the programme not popular among a lot of officers they did not want it. They found a lot of these high-risk inmates having it their way and there you are coming in now and saying you giving somebody a lift. I say how could you do that and the reason we allowed him to come on the compound with his vehicle because he brought in the balls and all the thing and we allowed him that and we would have searched him as anybody else.
Though Futsal has been stopped indefinitely, how would you sum up the programme’s performance in the prisons?
Wilson: I thought it was a really good programme and it created a bit of comfort among those persons who were always in fights and by the time they got to play, there was a level of calm among those persons who were always rowdy and use to fight. The programme I later decided to move to other prisons then.
SOURCE: T&T Guardian