[www.inewsguyana.com] – Inmates of the Camp Street, Georgetown Prison, waiting for years to have their cases heard, were recently promised by Vice President and Minister of Public Security Khemraj Ramjattan, during his visit to the holding facility that efforts would be made to start the process of speedy trials.
Minister Ramjattan recently told the media that he visited the facility and had discussions with inmates, after there were reports of gang fights in the penitentiary, resulting in the subsequent hospitalisation of an inmate.
It was during this visit that it was brought to the Minister’s attention that persons were being held there for many years and are still awaiting trial.
“I am confident, having spoken to them and knowing fully well that I will keep my promise to them to have the courts give some early trials to them or at least start the process, they are comforted by that and will not be so explosive…they promised to keep their part of the deal and wait for the early trial,” Minister Ramjattan explained.
Meanwhile, addressing the issue of overcrowding in the prisons, the Public Security Minister told media operatives that the APNU+AFC Government is working to address this issue, since it is of major concern.
“The overcrowdedness is a huge problem, we need another prison, but the capital works for another prison is going to be humongous, and at this time, we might not be in a position to afford that, and so we will have to make do with what we have.”
This issue was the subject of the United States State Department’s 2014 Report on Human Rights in Guyana and other countries. The Report stated that the Camp Street Prison was built to accommodate 775 inmates, but it now houses more than 900 inmates, according to data provided in 2011. However, it is believed that this figure gradually increased over the years, since the 2011 data showed that in total, there were 1,962 prisoners in five facilities with a combined design capacity of 1,580.
To this end, Minister Ramjattan explained that efforts are being made to occupy the brick prison, which is located in the Camp Street Prison compound. “We are now trying to open that extension we had made at the brick prison that was a brand new structure that can accommodate 160 prisoners…the new brick prison needs some renovations, some of the doors might not be of the best construction, we are working on that to get that done and then bring them over,” he said.
Minister Ramjattan reported that as the prisoners are transferred there, “we will then do some rehabilitation to that prison (Camp Street). Of course I would have to get Cabinet’s approval, and the Cabinet paper is now being prepared to get the approval for the reconstruction of that area that was very dilapidated.”
It is anticipated that this rehabilitation work will cost approximately $150M as the intention is to build a better structure at the Camp Street Prison and in the long- term, plans would have to be made for the construction of a prison elsewhere.
Responding to a question as to whether the Government is seeking to introduce skills training for the prisoners as is done in other countries, the Minister advised that there are several projects, which are currently ongoing for prisoners, as they are engaged in carpentry, masonry, and electrical installation among others. [GINA]