Taxpayers face huge burden of maintaining prisoners

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…over $300,000 spent on 1 prisoner each year – Minister

Public Security Minister, Khemraj Ramjattan recently announced that costs associated with maintaining one prisoner per year exceeds $300,000, which places a burden on the Ministry.

The Minister was at the time addressing the state of the local prisons, which he stated are overcrowded.

Ramjattan alluded to a report compiled back in 2017, when the Camp Street Prison was burnt to the ground, which concluded that the overpopulation of the prisons creates its own disasters, costing the Government even more money.

Minister of Public Security Khemraj Ramjattan

According to him, the cost of maintaining prisoners is a huge burden which can be eased should treatment be available to offenders rather than having them incarcerated.

“At the last budget debate I did ask the question because it was asked of me what is the cost of feeding, housing and in a sense, clothing the prisoner for the period that they’re in there and the average cost comes up to something over $380,000,” he stated.

He later said that he feels he was being very conservative in the figures he called as the monies may very well exceed this amount.

As Government explores its options to reduce the high costs associated with maintaining prisoners, it was revealed that a Drug Treatment Court is one measure that may very well aid in helping the Government achieve its goals.

The new system will provide rehabilitative services to offenders rather than have them incarcerated for long periods. Ramjattan recently said that this initiative is likely to come on stream soon, especially since training for stakeholders has begun.

Lusignan holding facility

On Wednesday, a two-day workshop kicked off for Magistrates and even psychologists among others who will be handling these matters.

The Public Security Minister had noted, “We do not want necessarily to jail our juveniles and to make this a jailhouse nation, we want to have alternatives, we want to have diversionary measures and I see this Drug Treatment Court as an aspect of that”.

In addition, President David Granger had assured that Government will soon present the legislation for non-custodial sentences.

“We have taken a decision in principle that custodial sentences for the possession of small amounts of marijuana for personal use would be legally abolished. After the National Assembly comes off of recess, we could look forward to that legislation being passed,” the Head of State told reporters back in September last year.

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