The main Parliamentary Opposition – the A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance for Change – has posed several questions regarding the Guyana Prison Service (GPS)’s early release of some 65 prisoners last month.
The Department of Public Information (DPI) on November 18, 2020 reported that the inmates were “non-violent offenders”, and that their release was in keeping with efforts to reduce overcrowding in all prisons. The report further stated that the inmates were near the end of their sentences.
Director of Prisons (ag), Gladwin Samuels was quoted as saying that the decision was taken to provide more space for prisoners as the Prison Service implements the COVID-19 measures.
The early release came one month after more than 290 inmates at the Lusignan Prison on the East Coast of Demerara, tested positive for the disease with several prison officers also affected.
The questions appeared on an order paper issued by the Parliament of Guyana and are expected to be addressed at the 14th Sitting of the National Assembly of the first session (2020) of the twelfth Parliament, scheduled to be held tomorrow at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre, Liliendaal, Greater Georgetown.
The questions were posed by APNU+AFC Member of Parliament, Geeta Chandan-Edmond to the Minister of Home Affairs, Robeson Benn.
They are as follows:
(1) The Director of Prisons (a.g) has confirmed that sixty-five (65) prisoners were granted early release from prison. Could the Hon. Minister of Home Affairs state the circumstances and the factors taken into account to grant early release to the aforementioned prisoners?
(2) Additionally, could the Hon. Minister state the names, length of incarceration and the offences for which the prisoners were convicted?
(3) Could the Hon. Minister state whether the above information will be made public in view of this matter being of public welfare and interest?