Prisoners escaping from Lusignan Prison don’t raise eyebrows no mo’. The facility – nothing more than a fenced-off holding pen for minimum-security prisoners in the middle of a cow pasture – was completely overwhelmed after the Camp Street Jail was torched in 2017. Since then, hardly a day goes by when there isn’t some incident or other among the prisoners, due to the overcrowding more than anything else. Sexual abuse, murders, beatings; smuggled items like ganja, phones, knives; escaped prisoners, complicit guards scratch just the surface of what’s now a national disgrace.
There were talks by the PNC about expanding the facility – which was overrun when they were in power. It even suffered its own arson, which reduced its capacity. Calls for it to be shut down were answered with the retort, “Wait till the expansion of Mazaruni Prison is finished”.
The Mazaruni Prison, of course, is as venerable as the colonial Camp Street Jail – and with it being located on a remote island in the middle of the eponymous Mazaruni River, one would’ve thought the authorities wouldn’t have waited for the razing of the Camp Street facility before seeking to beef it up.
But, indeed, in 2017, Khemraj Ramjattan, the PNC Public Security Minister, bombastically boasted that a $4 billion expansion was going to be immediately launched to not only house the tenants from Camp Street, but to do so with the latest high-security measures. Phase 1 was announced completed in 2019, and it was further announced that the entire project would “soon” be wrapped up. The Guyanese pubic could now rest more comfortably, since the hard-core felons would now be securely under wraps, so to speak.
So it was with great consternation that your Eyewitness read about the “Case of the Disappeared Killers” from Mazaruni. The four escaped prisoners aren’t your ordinary garden variety criminals, but fellas who’d actually snuffed out lives -two were convicted of cold-blooded murder and the others of manslaughter. That they escaped from “Brick Prison” – which houses the prisoners who are kept in “solitary” – emphasises that these are dangerous men.
So, how did they escape from our most modern and supposedly securest prison built solve our incarceration challenges? We were told blithely that “the padlock to the entrance gate had been tampered with, and two bars in the cell had been cut while the facility had been secured by a duty officer and 4 ranks”!! We were also told that there must’ve been some complicity in the escape!
Well, duh!! There’s also the question as to how they got off the island, since the waters aren’t exactly benign.
The Police can issue as many statistics as they want, but crime is increasing, we’re sitting on a ticking time bomb with our prisons.
…boat and bodies
And we now have another mystery on our hands: “The Case of the Disappeared Boat of the Dead”. The appearance of the boat filled with some dead men was enough of a mystery, to begin with. Where had it originated? Our waters aren’t in the Caribbean Sea, to suggest that it might’ve come from one of the islands that lie to our north. There are no tides or wind that could’ve moved the boat north to south. Could it have come all across the Atlantic from Africa, or the Canaries, or the Iberian Peninsula?
The decomposed bodies would suggest that; and also, since the Exxon-affiliated barge which sighted the drifting boat got close enough to make out this detail, couldn’t they give more details?
Quote from Hamilton Green, OR, to Roshan Khan: “Mr. Khan must repent if he desires to be my friend. Khan’s remarks came after the mostly Afro-Guyanese community expressing a concern for the barbaric torture and murder of two of the young men at Cotton Tree Village. Similar protests revolving around the murder of Haresh Singh did not evoke a response from Mr. Khan.”
A “concern”? “Protests” after Haresh’s murder?