Death of Lusignan prisoners regrettable, but necessary – Minister Benn

The entrance to the Lusignan Prison

Minister of Home Affairs Robeson Benn has noted that the death of two inmates at the Lusignan Prison on September 19 is regrettable but necessary to prevent any possible jailbreak.

“The lost of life in any event is regrettable and sad,” Minister Benn told the National Assembly on Tuesday. He was responding to oral questions submitted without notice by shadow minister, Geeta Chandan- Edmond.

According to the Home Affairs Minister, the perimeter of the prison was under threat and prison wardens were under siege.

He posited that the actions to open fire were necessary.

Minister of Home Affairs Robeson Benn

The dead prisoners 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, who was in custody for rape.

During the incident, five other prisoners were injured. Three prisoners were transferred to the Georgetown Public Hospital for treatment and two remained at the facility.

Minister Benn further told the House that the cause of death of the prisoners are not yet known as he is awaiting the autopsy report.

Expanding on the situation, he explained that the main issue at the prison is overcrowding, which was compounded following two major incidents: the destruction of the Camp Street Prison in 2017 as well as the recent destruction of the main building at Lusignan, both by fire.

This has resulted in an increase in the population of the Holding Bays at the Lusignan facility.

Minister Benn said his government, though just several weeks in office, had begun working on solutions to ease the overcrowding, especially in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.

On this note, he revealed that over 100 prisoners are Covid-19 positive. About 80 of them have since been transferred to the Madewini Prison on the East Bank of Demerara.