Prison fights stem from demand for contraband items – Director


The high demand for contraband items within the prisons is one of the main causes for fights among inmates, Director Gladwin Samuels said on Wednesday.

He was at the time speaking during a graduation ceremony for eight prisoners who successfully completed anger management classes, an exercise aimed at reducing violence in the prisons.

“There is the issue of demand for contraband. There have been instances whereby persons who are in possession of illegal cellphones, a major problem which we have been facing for a number of years. Their families are caused to top-up those phones with credit and then when someone does not receive the require benefits for the credit, their families would have placed in those phones, those situations too would result in fights,” the Prisons Director explained.

Just last March, an early morning raid at the New Amsterdam Prison Friday by members of the Guyana Police Force and the Guyana Prison Service unearthed a large number of contraband items including cellphones, shaving sets, improvised weapons, electronic devices, scissors, cigarette lights, among others.

The Director of Prisons admitted that, in many occasions, prisoners are involved in altercations just before their stint is completed.

For this, they are sentenced for yet another offence. He reiterated that in the past, attacks would result in some persons being hospitalised for days. Wardens and other officers are sometimes subjected to these threats.

This is why the anger management sessions are introduced to the inmates. The 12-week training provided areas to cope with behavioural issues, which can be used as life lessons.

“The Guyana Prison Service has placed much focus on the need for such training programme. While some of those persons who are graduating will not be immediately reintegrated back into society, you will understand that this training will also serve to help those inmates to better cope with their period of imprisonment,” Samuels noted.

Officer-In-Charge at the Prison, Nicklon Elliot noted that because of such training initiatives, there has been a reduction in violent crimes in the lockups.

“There would have been a reduction in prisoner violence at the location and those persons who are part of the programme would have become mentors for the others at the location. The location is one that is dynamic in terms of its condition and that by itself would cause a lot of conflict among prisoners,” Eliot stated.