Guyana prisons and jails “harsh and life threatening” – US Report

Camp Street Prison

By Jomo Paul

Camp Street Prison
Camp Street Prison

[] – The United States Department has decried the present state of affairs of jails and prisons in Guyana, pointing out that they pose a serious threat to human life.

This is according to the State Department 2014 Report on Human Rights, which featured an extensive exposé on Human Rights in Guyana and other countries around the world.

The 23 page document dedicated to Guyana, details several areas where the Guyana government was either congratulated or recommendations made for improvements. One such area was the present condition of jail cells and other holding facilities.

The Report states that “prison and jail conditions, particularly in police holding cells, were harsh and life threatening. Overcrowding was a severe problem.”

According to the report, the Camp Street Prison was built to accommodate 775 inmates, but it now houses more than 900 inmates, according to 2011 data.

However, it is expected that this figure would have gradually increased over the years. The 2011 data showed that in total, there were 1,962 prisoners in five facilities with a combined design capacity of 1,580.

“Overcrowding was in large part due to a backlog of pre-trial detainees, who constituted approximately 39 percent of the total prison population,” the report stated adding “although precinct jails were to serve only as pre-trial holding areas, authorities detained some suspects there as long as two years while they awaited judicial action,” the report noted.

Despite these prevailing conditions, it was noted that prisoners had access to potable water, and government medical officers visited each prison on a monthly basis.

“Government authorities reported that medical staff consisting of a medical examiner, registered nurses, and assistant nurses provided daily treatment and monitored the sick as advised by the medical doctors.”

Turning its attention to the Guyana Police Force (GPF), the report pointed out that “inadequate training, poor equipment, and acute budgetary constraints severely limited the GPF’s effectiveness.”

As it relates to corruption in the police force, it was noted that while police force abuses may be reported to the Police Complaints Authority (PCA), the authority did not possess an independent investigative unit.

“Lack of an investigative unit hampered the PCA’s efforts to conduct impartial and transparent assessments of the complaints it received…the PCA relied on the GPF to conduct investigations into complaints against its own officers,” the report noted.



  1. Prisons are supposed to rehabilitate offenders also. Isn’t that so? And if there are subjected to inhumane conditions, what then do you think would be released back into society…a rehabilitated individual ready to be reintegrated to society, or, a HARDENED CRIMINAL?

  2. GPS needs to be renamed the Guyana University of Behavioural Reform with campuses located at Camp street, Timehri, etc.
    Then there should be a transformational curriculum designed to help offenders reform and conform to best behaviors/practices in society. Residents should have the opportunity to choose practical as well as theoretical disciplines ranging from agriculture to theology – for certification. Depending on how long a term you will be incarcerated, residents MUST pursue either certificate, diploma or degree programs. For the youth 16 – 25, language arts will be compulsory and math. Best performing residents who have adequately demonstrated transformation should be placed on a work study program where they are under supervision and upon completion must have a welcome home program where trained counselors continue to work with them for a 1 year period after their release. Civic society members can arrange to have an Adopt – a – prisoner program to help reintegrate such persons back into normal life.

  3. Do agree with you brother however I do believe that the reform and rehabilitation aspects are lacking. It is a known fact that recidivism is a troubling problem for those in the prison business. One of the ways to stem this tide is to institute some sort of training program for these repeat offenders. They will learn something while locked up anyway. This training will more than likely constitute how to become better at what they do-crime.Offer them some sort of skill training that will hopefully allow them to become productive members of society once released.

  4. PRISONS are not supposed to be a place of COMFORT, or a Sabbatical either.

    Prisons are Correctional Institutions. And that means the inmates MUST be deprived of most personal effects, privileges, and comforts affordable to him/her on the outside.

    Only in most American prisons does TV, Gyms, and other indulgences like this evident.

    That is why their prisons are always full and overcrowded.

    Because most are repeated offenders, who seem to love the comforts therein.


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