Commencing next month, the Public Security Ministry will facilitate a nationwide prison survey with the aim of designing rehabilitation and social reintegration services for inmates.
The Inter-American Development Bank’s US$2.3 million project is the third component of the Citizen Security Strengthening Programme (CSSP).
The aim of the survey is to gather information on the experiences of the lives of inmates prior to their incarceration, during imprisonment, and those of recidivists or repeat offenders, CSSP Project Manager Clement Henry said.
“The hope is that when we look at the information capturing what has been happening to these inmates and ex-inmates, we can be able to design programmes to target recidivism, and to also improve conditions in the prison. The pre-prison experiences will help us in terms of designing programmes to deal with ‘at risks youths’ so that they don’t end up in the prisons,” Henry pointed out.
He said that the CSSP would begin crafting rehabilitation and social reintegration programmes on the preliminary findings. “These preliminary data will help us as we move towards developing a comprehensive rehabilitation, reintegration service, so that is why this survey is of critical importance,” Henry explained.
The data capturing period is expected to last six weeks, with a preliminary report expected by the end of November. The final report is expected at the end of April 2017.
The comprehensive survey has more than 200 indicators. Henry noted that the survey would sample the male population, but would likely have a full census of the female population. High-risk prisoners are not expected to be part of the survey.
The data collection will be implemented by the Tres de Febrero University of Argentina, in collaboration with the University of Guyana. Already, the CSSP is engaging the two universities to resolve the survey’s terms of reference.
“University of Guyana’s role would be to capture the data, and the Tres de Febrero University’s role is to analyse the data and prepare and compile the report. They will also overlook the implementation of the survey by the University of Guyana,” Henry explained to the Government Information Agency (GINA).
Henry expressed confidence in the Argentine university’s lead role based on its extensive experience in conducting prison surveys in this hemisphere. “We feel confident that they will be able to do this task effectively,” Henry noted.
A 2015 US State Department Report on Human Rights had indicated that rehabilitation programmes within the local prison services did not adequately address the needs of prisoners. Overcrowding and the harsh conditions faced by inmates were also highlighted by the report.
More recently, a Commission of Inquiry into the prison riot of March 3 which resulted in the deaths of 17 inmates pointed to overcrowding and inadequate facilities as some of the shortcomings of the system.
Meanwhile, Henry said he hoped that the final report will generate intellectual presentations on the conditions of the prisons. “They will make recommendations from these reports and the recommendations we can pull and we can utilise.”