According to one of the latest assessments of Guyana’s justice system by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), there appears to be a tendency for stricter law enforcement and sentencing which have contributed to significant increases in the prison population. Specifically, the financial institution found that Guyanese judges have the option of both probation orders and community service orders as alternatives to imprisonment but hardly ever make use of them.
The Bank said that these are particularly appropriate for young or first time offenders accused of committing less serious offences. Similarly, the IDB said that alternatives to prison have been encouraged in cases involving women, especially those with caretaking responsibilities, so as to take into account their background and mitigating circumstances of the offence.
The Bank was keen to note that while these options are “rarely used,” it is perhaps linked to the fact that there is insufficient institutional capacity such as the availability of social workers and probation officers to provide appropriate supervision of such orders, which therefore causes reluctance in judges applying the non-custodial options currently available.