Prisons Director urges retired officers to return to strengthen capacity


The Guyana Prison Service has issued a call for retired, senior non-commissioned officers of the Guyana Defence Force, the Guyana Police Force or the Prison Service to return in wake of a fire that destroyed the Camp Street Prison and multiple jail breaks.

Director of Prisons (ag) Gladwin Samuels

This is according to a statement from the Government, in which Director of Prisons Gladwin Samuels announced that applications from these individuals were welcome.

This, he said, was in order to strengthen the capacity of the prisons.

“Recent challenges which the Guyana Prison Service has been faced with require us to look at all possibilities in strengthening our internal capacity,” he stated.

“We know that there is a core of experienced security services officers who have expressed a willingness to continue to give service to the nation and we believe it would be eminently sensible to engage these officers at this time,” he said.

Samuels invited these retired officers wanting to join the Guyana Prison Service to submit written applications to his office at 46 Brickdam, Stabroek.

Following the fire at the Camp Street Prison that razed the prison and resulted in a number of dangerous prisoners escaping, it was announced that steps had been taken to boost the security at other jails such as the Mazaruni prison, where a complement of prisoners were moved.

It is understood that since the fire, over 400 prisoners have been transferred to penitentiaries in Mazaruni, Region Seven (Cuyuni-Mazaruni), New Amsterdam in Region Six (East Berbice-Corentyne) and Timehri, East Bank Demerara, Region Four (Demerara-Mahaica).

The officer to prisoner ratio has, however, always been a challenge, with it being revealed to be 10 to 1000 or one to 100.

In March 2016, a fire raged through the Camp Street Prison and claimed the lives of 17 prisoners. Afterwards, a Commission of Inquiry (CoI) which cost the Treasury some $13 million was ordered by President David Granger.

According to the report compiled by the Commissioners, the combination of overcrowding, uncomfortable and unhygienic confinement are all ideal conditions for epidemics, for gangs to prosper and to propagate discontent.

Moreover, the CoI found that reducing numbers in prison to manageable levels was the single most important priority for establishing safe, humane and purposeful prisons.

It was further noted that repeat offenders have increased by over 100 per cent, “indicating not only a waste of taxpayers’ dollars but also the need for a more comprehensive and structured partnership within the wider justice system.”

But despite these recommendations, the Director of Prisons himself confirmed that at the time of the fire, which gutted Camp Street Prison, over 1000 prisoners were being housed at the prison.

The Camp Street Prison was originally built to house half that number.

The amount of prison officers on duty at the time is still unclear, as records were destroyed in the inferno.



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