The total number of prisoners under the jurisdiction of the State’s correctional authorities has recently hit 2000, according to Home Affairs Minister Robeson Benn. The Minister made this announcement at an event on Friday during which he stated that this amount is a result of the Police’s good work.
“We have to change our behaviours so that the financial responses to the overall criminal justice system would not be as great, and that we can put our monies to better use,” he underscored. However, the Minister refused to make any comments on the judicial system.
“I wouldn’t say anything about the judicial system on this matter, but either we are more lawless or we catching those who are more lawless, or we are too slow perhaps with getting people out of prison…”, he explained.
In respect to the overall criminal justice system, Benn stated that the suggestion is that the overall general and personal modification of behaviour at all levels is required. He said we would have to put a lot more effort in relation to the issue of changing our behaviours.
Meanwhile, Director of Prisons Nicklon Elliot recently said the country’s prison population is about 30 to 38 per cent over capacity – a situation that remains a concern to the authorities.
He said new facilities will accommodate 1000 prisoners and they will be housed in keeping with international requirements.
As of November 2020, 1884 persons were in Guyana’s prisons. 39.5 per cent were remand prisoners, 2.8 per cent were female prisoners and 0.6 per cent was juveniles. Foreign prisoners stood at 1.5 per cent.
Earlier this year the Government of Guyana earmarked a sum of $88.9 million to train prison inmates in areas such as anger management, literacy and numeracy, tailoring, among others, in an effort to reduce recidivism.
It was announced that transforming the penal institution into a correctional facility that reforms the mindsets of inmates to benefit all of society post-incarceration is a core objective.
The Government is also aiming to enhance prison infrastructure with the earmarked sum of $2.3 billion.
This sum will be spent on transforming the Lusignan Prison into a modern facility to house both male and female prisoners including a vocational school, an infirmary annex, prison headquarters and command centre.
In January the construction of the female prison commenced and will facilitate the relocation of the current female prisoners in New Amsterdam upon completion.
The ongoing work to construct an infirmary annex and overhead water storage tanks and water treatment plants are at 40 per cent and 35 per cent completion, respectively.
Additionally, the construction of new cell blocks at Lot 1, 2, and 3 are at 85, 70, and 65 per cent completion, respectively, and is projected to be completed in August.
Construction works have also commenced on cell blocks Lot 4-6. Further, the construction of new cell blocks will alleviate the current overcrowding problems.