Rolle calls for Opposition leader to apologize over prison chief criticisms

Minister with responsibility of the National Insurance Board (NIB), Brensil Rolle.

NASSAU, BAHAMAS – In order for the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) and its current leadership team to absolve itself from the “hypocrisy” of past actions, they must first accept wrongdoing and then apologize, Minister of Public Service and National Insurance Board Brensil Rolle said yesterday.

“I await their apology Mr. Speaker,” Rolle said during the budget debate in Parliament.

He was referring to the opposition’s objections and criticisms of the Minnis administration’s appointment of Charles Murphy as the commissioner of the Bahamas Department of Correctional Services in April.

Following the announcement, Opposition Leader Philip Brave Davis said the opposition could not support Murphy’s appointment as the new commissioner of the Bahamas Department of Correctional Services as the process which led to the appointment “did not appear to us to have been fair or transparent”.

He claimed Murphy superseded two women whom he claimed were in line for the job and “seemed qualified”.

He suggested partisan politics were at play.

Yesterday, Rolle outlined the processes undertaken in the appointment of the latest commissioner and juxtaposed it to the 2005 appointment under the Christie administration of former Prison Superintendent Dr. Elliston Rahming, who served in the role for eight years.

“All I say is in the case of the appointment that was raised by the PLP, notice was circulated to all of the prison officers about the vacancy that existed and the post of commissioner of corrections,” he said.

“The Ministry of Public Service on the other hand advertised the vacancy in the daily newspapers and invited all qualified individuals to apply for the job.”

Rolle said Charles Rolle, a veteran prison deputy commissioner, acted as commissioner after former Prison Superintendent Edwin Culmer retired.

“In Bahamian terms Mr. Speaker, when Mr. Culmer retired, Mr. Rolle became the chief,” the minister said.

“He (Rolle) was the man in charge. Suddenly, Mr. Speaker, without notice to anyone in the prison or in the public service; without any advertisement placed in the media, Mr. Rahming was appointed superintendent of the prison or as it later became, prison corrections officers; the chief.

“Needless to say Mr. Speaker, every single prison officer was shocked.

“They did not know this was going to take place. My cousin could not believe his own eyes that this was happening right before [him].

“The only announcement that was made, was made in the media that Mr. Rahming was the new man in charge. There was absolutely no outrage Mr. Speaker from the member of Parliament for Cat Island [Rum Cay, and San Salvador], or Englerston — both of whom where serving members in the Cabinet.”

Rolle claimed the PLP appointed two deputies without advertising the post or circulating them in the prison when Charles Rolle retired as deputy commissioner of the prison.

However, he said was more “egregious” is that one of the appointees had never served in the prison and was allowed to “skip seven posts in the prison”.

“This was their version of fairness, of transparency,” the minister said.

“I did not see any comments in the newspaper when that was done Mr. Speaker.

Rolle asserted that while the PLP’s message has changed, their actions reflect “how they did business”.

To Davis, who as not present in the Lower Chamber, Rolle said in order to be forgiven by the electorate “you must first admit you were wrong” and apologize to the people of Mayaguana and the residents for criticizing “their man who qualified for the position since 2003”.

He called of the opposition leader to also apologize to the Public Service Commission, insisting that the appointee was the most qualified with the best leadership qualities for the role.

Murphy previously headed the Maximum-Security Unit.

Murphy became acting commissioner of corrections last August after the former commissioner, Patrick Wright, retired.

His appointment took effect January 29, 2019.