Following a presidential-ordered Commission of Inquiry (COI) into the 2016 Camp Street inferno, which claimed the lives of 17 inmates, it was recommended that measures be taken to reduce overcrowding within the system.
The following year (2017), saw another uproar and blaze which resulted in the destruction of facility, and the escape and subsequent recapture of several high-profile prisoners. The incident also caused the death of a young prison officer.
Again, the recommendation to ease overcrowding was brought to the forefront,
Today marks one year since that incident and easing the overcrowded state of the penal system remains a challenge for the authorities.
According to the Director of Prisons (acting) Gladwin Samuels, there are currently 2,183 prisoners housed at penal facilities across the country.
The Director gave assurance that the issue of overcrowding will be address as new and updated infrastructure are currently being implemented.
Samuels noted also, that security at the various prisons are being strengthened.
“On a daily basis, we have the general duty police, the Tactical Services unit and prison officers deployed at Lusignan, where they are overlooking a large volume of the prisoners who are housed in the holding bay, as of today 523. We also have at the Lusignan Prison 110 prisoners who are from that location and an additional 175 prisoners who are lodged there,” Samuels explained.
Additionally, 203 high profile prisoners, including those recaptured following the jailbreak, are now housed at the now completed brick prison at Camp Street
“As you would remember we would have also transferred a number of those prisoners to the out-stations; those being Mazaruni, New Amsterdam and Timehri Prisons. So, we would have deployed some of the Georgetown Prison officers to assist with security at those locations, there is also a police presence there on a daily basis,” the acting director said.
When completed, the new Georgetown Prison will house an additional 180 prisoners in 60 prefabricated steel cells from the United States of America. The details for the cells have been finalised and construction has commenced. The structures are expected to be completed and delivered within this year.
“Outside of that, our architect has just completed the work which would have to be carried out at Camp Street to accommodate those cells upon arrival,” Samuels added
According to Samuels, the expansion of the Mazaruni Prison and the construction of new prisons will eventually reduce overcrowding.