By Jomo Paul
[www.inewsguyana.com] – With the US Government criticizing the local administration over the state of Guyana’s prisons, Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan says steps are being made to upgrade the facilities and transfer prisoners.
“Overcrowding was in large part due to a backlog of pretrial detainees, who constituted approximately 39 percent of the total prison population,” a 2014 report on Human Rights stated.
Vice President Ramjattan on Thursday stated that plans are in the pipeline for the opening of the Brickdam Prison.
“That (section) needs some renovation, some of the doors might not have been of the best construction and these guys are very tough guys. So we are strengthening, you can get that in done another two weeks and then we move them over,” said Ramjattan.
He noted that when it is opened, the prison will accommodate some 160 prisoners.
“Overcrowding is a huge problem – we need another prison but the capital works for another prison is gonna be humongous and we are not in a position to afford that,” he said.
With the absence of funding for capital works, some rehabilitation work will be done on existing structure in the Camp Street and the conversation on building a new prison will commence.
Meanwhile, Ramjattan noted that during a recent visit to the prison, some 50 pieces of contraband were surrendered by prisoners.
Gang violence within the prison walls is also a problem, said Ramjattan noting that there are two warring factions – Section A and Section B.
“These guys from section A and B are at logger heads for extraneous reasons…from what I heard its from people throwing in stuff into the prison at nights,” said Ramjattan.
Some of the stuff thrown over the prison walls allegedly belong to Section ‘A’ but is claimed by Section ‘B’ which sparks the violence. Outdoor patrols are expected to be increased to handle this aspect of the issue.