Segregation: Gang members are kept apart to prevent violent clashes at Westgate Correctional Facility, pictured here. *File photo
Segregation: Gang members are kept apart to prevent violent clashes at Westgate Correctional Facility, pictured here. *File photo
Gang members are being separated in prison to prevent violence.

Inmates with links to one side — 42, Parkside or MOB — get different recreation times to their rivals to help avoid tempers boiling over.

Some high-profile prisoners receive recreational time on their own to remove any chance of reprisal attacks.

Prison officers are made fully aware of what gang affiliations inmates have or what neighbourhoods they are from.

They have to be on constant guard to ensure that rival members’ paths do not cross in Westgate.

Defence lawyer Llewellyn Peniston told the Bermuda Sun that men with links to certain gangs are kept apart from rivals in their cells as well as in the yard.

He said: “Absolute sympathy must be given to the prison officers who have to constantly be on their guard and assess inmates.

“It is not an easy task, especially in a very closed environment. The prison is either overcrowding or has already reached that point.

Threats

“We have people up at Westgate who are at risk for their gang affiliation unless they are kept separate, so it makes sense that they are kept apart by the prison.

“I have clients who have received threats while in custody for their perceived affiliation with gangs.

“They have to live 24/7 in that place so tensions can run pretty high — and there will come times when they reach heightened levels. The prison staff have to be constantly on duty and vigilant by making sure that certain groups are let out at different times from others.”

Mr. Peniston said some high-profile gang members still exert influence from behind bars.

He added: “Their tentacles have been able to reach outside the walls of Westgate.

“They can send messages to conduct operations while they are in prison. I understand that if they want to take a certain position or harm someone, that message can go through to their disciples.

“I don’t think the prison has had to face a social problem like this before and they are doing everything they can with the resources they have.”

Defence lawyer Marc Daniels told the Bermuda Sun efforts were made to keep rival gang members separate when he visited clients in jail.

He added: “I have spoken with various prison officers in relation to their process of ensuring safety within the prisons.

“I believe that all of the prison officers perform their duties to the best of their ability to keep individuals from rival gangs separated in order to reduce tension and acts of violence within the prison grounds.

“I understand that the prison officers perform assessments when a prisoner is first taken under their custody as to whether they have any gang affiliations or to ascertain which neighbourhood the prisoner comes from in order to reduce the chances of rivalries causing problems within the prison.

“When I have visited clients, who are said to have an affiliation with a particular group, or region of the island, I have witnessed prison officers individually escort prisoners and take extra precautions to prevent them coming across a prisoner from a rival group.

“They do everything they can to enhance the safety of the prison and they do the best job they can.

“I believe that they try to house the prisoners in a way which reduces the amount of contact between rivals and therefore decrease the toxicity levels within the prison generally”.

The Bermuda Sun repeatedly tried to contact Commissioner Edward Lamb to speak about prison procedures and tactics to deal with prisoners connected to gangs. We also sent a list of questions via e-mail.

But at the time of going to press we had received no response.