Lusignan overcrowding: 31 prisoners released early by presiding Magistrates

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Following the initial release of 22 inmates who were being detained at the Lusignan Prison, another 33 were on Tuesday added to the list as the specially-convened National Security Committee (NSC) continues efforts to improve conditions at the overcrowded East Coast Demerara penitentiary.

Based on information received, this publication understands that Tuesday’s total comprised two prisoners who were granted bail during hearings at the institution whereas the remaining 31 were released on reduced sentences by the Magistrates sent to Lusignan.

These releases were granted after assessment of the magnitude of offences as well as taking into consideration the length of sentences already served by those within the system.

As such, inmates who were on remand or charged for petty, non-violent offences were placed under review and subsequently discharged on bail. At the same time, prisoners with only few months remaining of their sentences were also eligible for reduced sentences and were released.

The release on Tuesday brings the total to 55 prisoners leaving the Lusignan facility after two days of hearings which were conducted at the Cecil Kilkenny Prison Officers’ Training School, a subsection of the Lusignan Prison.

Ranks gathered in front of the Cecil Kilkenny Prison Officers’ Training School in Lusignan

The release of yet another batch of prisoners reflected an announcement made by President David Granger on Monday that necessary measures would be taken to immediately reduce the prison population.

The Head of State was at the time informing the public of a four-part emergency plan to be implemented to avert the nationwide crisis which accompanied the massive Camp Street Prison break and fire on Sunday.

“The NSC has approved the immediate implementation of a four-part emergency plan, which includes the construction of temporary structures to safely and securely house prisoners in the short term and protect the population; the completion of recovery operations to account for and accommodate every single prisoner; the implementation of legal measures to immediately reduce prison population and importantly, the immediate recapture of those inmates who escaped custody,” the President told the nation.

Furthermore, Granger pointed out that the Government would now move to ensure that recommendations made by the Commission of Inquiry into the previous prison riot were considered so as to prevent further reoccurrence of such tragedy. Among the suggestions was the need for action to reduce the overpopulation at the Georgetown Prison.

Of the more than 1000 inmates transported from the now almost entirely razed Camp Street Prison, 300 were said to be relocated to the Mazaruni, New Amsterdam and Timehri penitentiaries.

However, as tension persists at the Lusignan facility, Magistrates are expected to continue presiding over the temporary courts set up there, as the NSC embarks on several approaches to reduce overpopulation and improve the conditions of the East Coast institution.

Moreover, the NSC is set for yet another meeting in an effort to further devise strategies aimed at improving stability and security while working to restore the nation back to a state of normalcy.

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