It Will Be A Long Process In Getting Guyana’s Prison Situation Under Control.

As a businessman I would like to be the first to publically suggest that the Government sells the Lot 12 Camp Street site. I have on occasion agreed with President David Granger and on this solemn occasion I do again. I agree with him that the prison should not be rebuilt there on Camp Street. I would want to add, however, that no incarceration, of any kind, should take place there. The government should immediately seek an evaluation for a reasonable market price for that property – As Is – with no repairs or remedial works done.

They should cease all attempts at cleaning, fixing, suring-up, or carrying out works on that site, which will cost the taxpayers another dime. They should obtain an evaluation of the property and immediately auction off that place. I will guarantee that they will receive an initial amount of money to begin the ground work for any holding facility or eventual prison that they want to build.

Editor, this is definitely not the time for the blame game, except to again agree with the President that “this was a disaster waiting to happen”. The President did say that contingents were being put in place to reduce the overcrowding of the facility. However, that those measures were not accelerated, given the inferno last year March, is still a sore spot in the minds of many onlookers.

Also, there were other methods that the Prison CoI called for that were not expeditiously implemented. Like alternative sentencing. Or the separation of prisoners based on classification. Or the introduction of a prisoner rehabilitation program.  The United Republican Party noticed that there was more emphasis placed on the structural infrastructure of the prison system and not on the human capital. It will be a long process in getting Guyana’s prison situation under control.

The problems did not begin now and the URP does not expect them to end over night. What we do expect and are advocating, is that the Granger administration take politics out of the management of this situations. There are people and the URP knows of one particular person – Pastor Wendell Jeffrey – who have the training and expertise to aid both in the reduction of crime and the reducing of prison overcrowding. We believe that the President needs to follow through on his promise to allow ‘other voices’ to play pivotal roles in the administration of the country. This is one such opportunity.

So I hope commonsense will prevail in this regards. Until there is a complete rebuilding of all the prisons, or until there is a facility to house all the inmates – collectively, the remaining prisons will be subject to the careful vigilance of the authorities. The URP is therefore admonishing the Government to “go high”. Move away from the petty, political, partisanship and allow for the holistic development of Guyana. After all, Guyana belongs to all of us.

Editor, please allow me, on behalf of my party, to offer my condolences to the family of Mr. Odinga Wickham, the prison officer who was killed. We also would like to keep in our prayers those who have been injured.