Vybz Kartel Instagram Streaming Has Serious Implications

From con­trib­u­tor Errol McLeish.

In the midst of con­cern over the coro­n­avirus pan­dem­ic in Jamaica, a pop­u­lar record­ing dance hall reg­gae artiste, Adidja ‘ Vybz Kartel’ Palmer, who is serv­ing a life sen­tence for mur­der, at a max­i­mum-secu­ri­ty prison facil­i­ty in Kingston Jamaica, decid­ed to go live stream­ing on the social media plat­form Instagram.
A seem­ing­ly bewil­dered prison author­i­ty, was sub­se­quent­ly informed of the activ­i­ty by an exter­nal source and a search of Vybz Kartel’s cell report­ed­ly uncov­ered cell phones and oth­er con­tra­band. This find, of course, was of no sur­prise, except maybe to the nin­com­poop and inef­fi­cient prison warders in charge of the facil­i­ty, and rais­es seri­ous con­cern about the secu­ri­ty of the pris­ons in Jamaica, as this was not an iso­lat­ed case.

It has long been rumored or sus­pect­ed that the artist has been record­ing and send­ing out his voice record­ings to be for­mat­ted and released into music. This was evi­denced by the fact that the music that was being released by the artiste man­age­ment team, was cur­rent, top­i­cal and quite trendy, which, obvi­ous­ly could not have been record­ed pri­or to the entertainer’s incar­cer­a­tion, because the vari­ables which I men­tioned, did not exist. Which brings me to the obvi­ous ques­tions: did the author­i­ties know or have knowl­edge, or sus­pect­ed that Kartel had a smart­phone, and if they did, why some­thing wasn’t done about it.

The issue is of major con­cern, not just for this par­tic­u­lar case, but for the poten­tial harm it can do to an already over­whelmed and under-resourced jus­tice sys­tem, which for many Jamaicans is inef­fec­tive, because of the pro­tract­ed delays in court cas­es, par­tic­u­lar­ly mur­der cas­es, to be heard. Additionally, the lack of a reli­able wit­ness pro­tec­tion pro­gram and the mis­trust of the police, among oth­ers, also exac­er­bate an already porous sys­tem. Indeed, the knowl­edge of a con­vict­ed pris­on­er being in pos­ses­sion of a com­mu­ni­ca­tion device that has the poten­tial to facil­i­tate a demand by a crim­i­nal with his cronies on the street, is fright­en­ing and should not be tak­en light­ly.

In a broad­er con­text, fam­i­lies and some human rights pro­po­nents might want to jus­ti­fy the impor­tance of a device like a cell phone in prison and point out the recent rev­e­la­tion of an out­break of sca­bies at the Tamarind Farm Correctional facil­i­ty, in St. Catherine, where pris­on­ers, many of whom were held under the present State of Emergency (S.O.E), imposed by the Jamaican Government, as a mech­a­nism to sup­press the high mur­der rate, high­light­ed their plight and it was due to the release of the record­ings in the pub­lic space, the mat­ter was addressed expe­di­tious­ly.
This, of course, was not an iso­lat­ed case, in fact, there has been oth­er alleged human rights abuse record­ed by pris­on­ers at a high-secu­ri­ty penal insti­tu­tion in the coun­try that was sent out to media hous­es by pris­on­ers, which were also high­light­ed and sub­se­quent­ly addressed because of the pub­lic­i­ty it gen­er­at­ed.

However, despite these seem­ing­ly jus­ti­fied and ratio­nal rea­sons for want­i­ng to ensure equi­ty and obser­vance of the fun­da­men­tal human rights of pris­on­ers in cus­tody, we can­not side­step the fact that in a coun­try that has had an astro­nom­i­cal mur­der sta­tis­tics and a police force that is seem­ing­ly over­whelmed and under-resourced, the police is now being con­front­ed with the intro­duc­tion of anoth­er vari­able, that is defeat­ing the small gains in con­trol­ling crime, the cell phone in prison. With this real­i­ty, no author­i­ta­tive body includ­ing gov­ern­ment, would embrace any ini­tia­tive that would make cell phones avail­able to inmates. So why is it being allowed to fes­ter in penal insti­tu­tions? Evidently, the cell phone did not find its way into the cells by them­selves some­one must have smug­gled it in, and that some­one must have been a prison offi­cial.

We can­not lose site of the fact that there are cor­rupt indi­vid­u­als in the prison sys­tem who might see this as an oppor­tu­ni­ty to make mon­ey and at the same time is putting the nation at risk.
Vybz Kartel is high­ly influ­en­tial and his influ­en­tial ten­ta­cles extend to the crim­i­nal under­world, many of whom idol­ized him and are heav­i­ly influ­enced by his music. Kartel’s case is being reviewed and he is await­ing an appeal. A process that can dic­tate that the case should be retried. Several wit­ness­es, includ­ing police, were involved in the case.
A pris­on­er hav­ing such immense influ­ence, can use that influ­ence to liq­ui­date and dis­pose of the wit­ness in his case. I have no evi­dence to sug­gest that Vybz Kartel is con­tem­plat­ing any such action. What I am sug­gest­ing is the prob­a­bil­i­ty of such action by an inmate who has a cell phone at his dis­pos­al.
It is of utmost impor­tance that the author­i­ties act expe­di­tious­ly, to elim­i­nate these cor­rupt indi­vid­u­als from the sys­tem that is facil­i­tat­ing access to inmates, only then will they be able to pre­vent fur­ther breach­es of this nature.
Failing to do so, per­haps the death of one of their own might help expe­dite a spurred action. I hope it does not have to come that.

The views expressed in this arti­cle are those of the author. They do not nec­es­sar­i­ly reflect those of the owner/​s/​publisher/​s of chat​-​a​-box​.com
Mister Errol McLeish may be reached @ Email: ermarlii16@​hotmail.​com.
Or Twitter :@ Errol McLeish @ermarlii16