…Home Affairs, Health Ministers were at the facility when unrest broke out
Two inmates of the Lusignan Prison were shot dead by prison officers, while five others are injured following an unrest at the facility earlier today.
The men have been identified as 51-year-ol Earl Graham, who was sentenced to three months imprisonment for Malicious Wounding, Assault and Resisting Arrest, and 21-year-old Winston Herbert, age 21, who is in custody for Rape.
Meanwhile, the other five injured prisoners are all in stable conditions with two at the Georgetown Public Hospital (GPHC) and three receiving treatment at the Lusignan Prison.
In a statement from Director of Prisons, Gladwin Samuel, it was noted that the disturbance begun since around 07:30h today (Saturday, September 19, 2020) when staff of the ECD prison attempted to serve breakfast. The inmates refused to accept their meal.
“This situation was immediately brought to the attention of the facility administrators who engaged the prisoners to hear their concerns and to address those where possible. However, the prisoners refused to engage the administrators and demanded to see the Minister of Home Affairs [Robeson Benn]. This standoff continued unto 12:30h but when attempts were made to distribute the midday meal the prisoners continued their refusal and increased their demand to see the Minister,” the missive detailed.
It was further noted that the given the persisting situation, Minister Benn along with Health Minister Dr Frank Anthony went to the Lusignan Prison.
They arrived around 13:15h in the Holding Bays and were loudly cheered and welcomed by the inmates.
The Ministers then commenced discussions with nominated representatives of the prisoners from Holding Bay 2. During this engagement all the prisoners appeared calm and those being engaged appeared receptive.
Concerns surrounding extensive timelines between court hearings and remand, among other issues, were raised with the Ministers, who committed to address those within their scope. They explained to the prisoners that the ability to address the issues within the remit of the courts was outside their authority but would be brought to the attention of those with those responsibilities.
Meanwhile, the issue of overcrowding and the risk of exposure to the COVID-19 pandemic, due to recent positive test returns amongst inmates, were also raised. Earlier this week, the Prison Director disclosed that two inmates at the Lusignan Prison tested positive for COVID-19.
Nevertheless, it was related that the response from the Ministers was “generally well received”.
However, it was during the subsequent discussions by the Ministers with inmates of Holding Bay 1 that some prisoners from Bays 2, 3 and 4 became aggressive and began throwing missiles, which caused the Ministers to end engagement and exit the confines of the compound.
After the Ministers left the main gate, the situation rapidly degenerated and became riotous with some prisoners scaling the inner fence of the Holding Bay and entering the restricted area, where they launched attacks on the prison officers within the compound, who had to flee to safety.
“After the officers left the main compound, the situation rapidly deteriorated into mass disorder with inmates rushing the main gate in a bid to break same. In response to situation, and in a bid to contain same, ranks posted within the towers discharged several shots in the general direction of the gate which resulted in the injury of seven inmates and restoration of relative calm to the situation,” the statement outlined.
Following the return to order, the injured prisoners were extracted and initially attended to by medical personnel on the ground, after which two were sent for further treatment at the GPHC, while three inmates continued to be attended to at the Lusignan facility.
The two now dead inmates were pronounced dead at the facility.
Only earlier this week, a disturbance erupted at the E.C.D facility after two inmates were tested positive for the novel coronavirus.