Two prisoners are now dead, and seven injured as riot broke out today at the Lusignan Prison. Two government ministers, who attempted to prevent the disturbance, were forced to flee after missiles began to hurl, the Guyana Prison Service said tonight.
The GPS reported that about 07:30hrs this morning, staff at the Lusignan Prison encountered refusals of the acceptance of meals. This situation was immediately brought to the attention of the facility administrators who engaged the prisoners to hear their concerns, and to address those where possible. However, the prisoners refused to engage the administrators and demanded to see the Minister of Home Affairs.
This standoff continued until 12:30 hrs but when attempts were made to distribute the midday meal, the prisoners continued their refusal and increased their demand to see the Minister.
Resulting from the demand and the ongoing situation, the Minister of Home Affairs Robeson Benn and the Minister of Health Dr. Frank Anthony visited the Holding Bays at Lusignan about 13:15 hrs.
The ministers commenced discussion with the nominated representatives of the prisoners from Holding Bay 2. During this engagement all the prisoners appeared calm and those being engaged appeared receptive, the service said.
Concerns surrounding extensive timelines between court hearings and remand, among other issues, were raised with the Ministers who committed to address those within their scope. They also informed the prisoners that the ability to address the issues within the remit of the courts was outside their authority, but would be brought to the attention of those with those responsibilities.
The issue of overcrowding and the risk of exposure to the COVID 19 pandemic, due to recent positive test returns amongst inmates, were also raised.
“The response was generally well received, but during the subsequent discussion by the Ministers with inmates of Holding Bay 1, some prisoners from Bays 2, 3 and 4 became aggressive and began throwing missiles which caused the Ministers to end engagement and exit the confines of the compound.
After the Ministers exited the main gate, the situation rapidly degenerated and became riotous with some prisoners scaling the inner fence of the Holding Bay, thus entering the restricted area, and launching attacks on the prison officers within the compound who had to flee to safety.
After the officers left the main compound, the situation rapidly deteriorated into mass disorder with inmates rushing the main gate in a bid to break same. In response to the situation, and in a bid to contain same, ranks posted within the towers discharged several shots in the general direction of the gate which resulted in the injury of seven inmates and restoration of relative calm to the situation.
Following the return to order, the injured prisoners were extracted and initially attended to by medical personnel on the ground, after which two were sent for further treatment at the Georgetown Public Hospital. Three inmates continued to be attended to at the Lusignan facility while two were pronounced dead.
The deceased have been identified as Earl Graham, age 51 who was sentenced to three (3) months imprisonment for Malicious Wounding, Assault and Resisting Arrest, and Winston Herbert, age 21, who is in custody for Rape.
The conditions of the five inmates – two (2) at the GPHC and three (3) at the Lusignan Prison – have all be listed as stable.