Recidivism rate at its lowest in 2023 – Prisons Director


The rate at which convicted criminals recommitted an offence – recidivism − in Guyana stands at 18 per cent in 2023, according to Director Prisons, Nicklon Elliot.

The Prison Head noted that “the technical and vocational skills training programs coupled with the behavioral modification programs provided to prisoners within the prison and the social services programs provided within the communities Ministry of Human Services along with the social crime prevention approach adapted by the Guyana Police Force plays a significant role in the reduction from approximately 33%-18% over the period of 2015 to 2023.”

According to the American National Institute of Justice, “Recidivism is one of the most fundamental concepts in criminal justice. It refers to a person’s relapse into criminal behavior, often after the person receives sanctions or undergoes intervention for a previous crime.”

In other words, recidivism is a measurement of the criminal acts committed by an ex-law offender that resulted in rearrest, reconviction or return to prison with or without a new sentence.

As the Guyana Prison Service notes the far-reaching implications of recidivism, Mr. Elliot reckoned, “recidivism is something we have been working to reduce in Guyana.”

“This points to the fact that our rehabilitative programs are meeting their intended purpose of preparing prisoners with life skills that will allow them to better reintegrate into society.”

During 2023, the Guyana’s Prison Service, in its efforts to improve data gathering, analysis and focus on evidence-based decisions, revised and adapted the international best practices formula for measuring recidivism and logged a remarkable rate of just 18% at the end of 2023.

Guyana’s rate of reimprisoned law offenders are remarkable in comparison to Australia’s average of 45%, The United States of America’s average of 43%, and the Caribbean’s 41% and Latin America 33% as reported by the Inter-American Development Bank.

The Prison Director acknowledged the impact of “the number of interventions being made Nationally, and of course the impact of the Service’s strategic developments,” for these successes.

According to the Head of Strategic Management Department, Ms. Corbin, “with the support from the Home Affairs Ministry, the Guyana Prison Service is dedicated to upskilling prisoners, with a focus of reducing the chances of them returning to a life of crime post-incarceration.

During 2023, 1,520 inmates were exposed to training opportunities by internal and external trainers. Similarly, 435 of the Service’s 498 employees were exposed to training to increase their capacity and ability to manage inmates within a reformative and correctional setting.”

Chiefly, the Honorable Minister of Home Affairs, Robeson Benn M.P. remains resolute on “increasing the peace in Guyana.”

The Head of the Service’s Strategic Department noted that the Honorable Minster’s multiprong approach is reaping positive rewards for every individual within our dear land.
The Prison Director explained, “Our general focus will be towards addressing holistically the rehabilitation efforts in prison, and externally to promote the reintegration aspect. Because we realise the stigma and discrimination have strong negative effects; we want to work even more closely with community partners, private sector, inmates’ family support bases, Ministry of Labour, Ministry of Human Services, and the Guyana Police Force to ensure that when these prisoners receive interventions while in prison their new skills and coping mechanisms should prevent them from committing crimes,”.

The Service encourages non-profit organizations, faith based organizations and private entities to join the management team in creating a better future of convicted law offenders who eventually return to the communities within which we reach reside and desire to take pride in.

The Jamaica Gleaner reported in February, 2023 that over the last three to five years the recidivism rate of the country’s Correctional Institutions has been about 40 per cent.
Similar percentages are observed in Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, the Bahamas, and Suriname over the years. [Guyana Prison Service Press Release]