Escapes from prisons on the decline

Guyana Chronicle
May 29, 2001

THE incidence of inmates escaping from local prisons has declined steadily over the last five years.

This was disclosed to the Guyana Information Services (GIS) last week by Superintendent of Prisons Ulric Williams.

"The Guyana Prison Service is doing extremely well as it relates to escapes," Mr Williams said.

He noted that over the past five years the prison population has risen significantly, and there has been a decline in the staff. However, he said, statistics indicate that adequate security is in place and that measures are being taken to ensure safe custody and prevention of escapes. "It shows we are doing better in terms of keeping prisoners in prison until they are entitled to be discharged," Superintendent Williams added. He described 1995 as an exceptional year when 88 prisoners escaped. However, since then, there has been a steady decline in escapes.

In 1996, the number of escapes declined to 58 and in 1997 it declined further to four; in 1998 it was 23 and for both 1999 and 2000 the figure was 18. For 2001, seven prisoners have escaped to date. Escapes are caused mainly by supervisory error. This is responsible for 90 per cent of the escapes

. The other 10 per cent of escapes comes from the category of "trustees". "Trustees" are those prisoners who have completed the greater part of their sentence and were put on outside jobs for long and protracted periods. Suddenly, these prisoners may decide to escape. Williams related a case at the Mazaruni Prisons where a young man who was doing a five-year sentence with nine months remaining, escaped.

Even though some escapes would come as a surprise, he said, every prisoner is a potential escapee and should be supervised as far as it is practical.